In recent months, an amazing statistic had been spreading rapidly across social media, blogs and traditional media outlets:
The Walton family is the richest family in the United States, with a net worth of $93 billion.
The Waltons’ wealth is greater than the bottom 30% of Americans combined.
You got it, one family’s wealth equals the wealth of more than 35 million American families. Something is wrong.
You can see some of the coverage of this mind-boggling statistic, here, here, here and here.
What is even more stunning is that, as economist Sylvia Allegretto notes, though we don’t have the final government data yet, we know that the reality is even worse than this. This statistic was calculated using numbers from the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Unfortunately, the most recent data available is from 2007. Allegretto also used information from 2007 to report the Waltons’ wealth.
Since 2007, we know that:
The Waltons have gotten richer – Moving from a net worth of $69.7 billion to $93 billion.
Most Americans got poorer – Between 2005 and 2009, net income for white families, dropped by more than 16%. Net worth for black families dropped 53% and for Hispanic families, it dropped by more than 65%.
Data for 2010 is due out in the spring of 2012. What will the new data show show? Will the Waltons be richer than 35% of Americans? 40%? What percentage is high enough for them?