NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It’s not hard to find evidence that there’s a problem with income inequality in this country. The richest 20% of Americans earn 10 times as much money as the poorest 30%, according to one recent report. And the disparities become even more apparent when you look at the super-rich: The top 1% richest Americans take in 20% to 25% of all the income in this country.
But the other 99% don’t seem to notice.
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A survey conducted last month by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press polled Americans on their perception of income inequality and the proposition that there was a divide between the “haves” and “have-nots.” And surprisingly few seem concerned with this inequality. More than half (52%) of the 1,000 respondents disagreed that American society is divided into two groups, the "haves" and the "have-nots." Just 45% agreed with that statement.
That’s actually a significant increase in the number of people concerned about income inequality, however. As recently as April 2009, 35% of respondents to a similar Pew survey agreed there was an economic divide. Evidently, as unemployment persists and more Americans struggle to make ends meet, more people are realizing what the statistics have been telling us for years: The rich are getting richer while lower-income families are staying still or getting poorer.
That state of affairs has begun to inspire protests in New York City and other cities, most hitting on the theme of the divide between the richest 1% and other 99%, even though Americans don’t see things that way. When pressed to place themselves in either the “have” or “have-not” category, 48% of respondents said they considered themselves “haves,” versus just 34% who considered themselves “have-nots.” So while the divide between the super-rich and the rest of the country is certainly great, it’s telling that close to half of the country is perfectly content with its level of wealth.
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