The 1%ers

A Google search will reveal a lot about WHO the 1%ers are, but it requires a little math to answer the simpler (in my opinion) question: how many 1%ers are there? I am also interested in a related, yet personal, question: how much more do I have to earn to be part of that much-maligned group?

This Washington Post article from 2011 claims that the top 1% of households earn more than $516,000 (in 2010.) To put that in perspective, earning less than $59,154 that same year puts you in the company of 60% of US households.  The Census Bureau estimates there were 118.6million households in the US in 2011, with an average of 2.6 people per household, so there were about 3.1 million people in the top 1% last year. Note that the official population of the US in 2011 was 311million, which means these back of the envelope calculations are reasonable.

What’s the threshold to be in the 1%? The Washington Post article says $516,000. Occupy Wall Street defines the top 1% as those taxpayers (individuals or households depending on filing status) earning more than $400,000 annually. They alternately define the 1% as having net wealth of more than $1.5million.

According to another website, in 2009 the top 1% of taxpayers earned more than $344,000.

And just how wealthy are the 1%ers? From the Washington Post article, the average income of the top 1% of households was $1.5m in 2011 and they had an average wealth of $14m (in 2009.)

Thankfully, money doesn’t buy happiness*…

*btw, this is true the world over.