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10 Fun Facts About the Top 1 Percent

They're highly educated, skew Republican, and look up at the top tenth of the top 1 percent with envy.

As the Occupy Movement has spread like wildfire, we've heard a lot about the top 1 percent of American households and how the “other 99 percent” want a fair share of the fruits of our economic output.

In 2009, there were about 1.4 million households in the top 1 percent. But just who are they? What do they do? Where do they live? 

We tried to answer some of those questions with ten fun facts about the top 1 percent.

1. Majority Are Corporate Big-Wigs, Doctors, Lawyers, and Wall Streeters

Mother Jones offers this handy chart that shows the sectors in which most of the 1% work — note that 4 percent of them are either not working or dead.  


2. You Won't Find Many in Indiana

Gallup compiled the results of 61 of its surveys to create a sample of the top 1 percent — and the other 99 percent — and found that the wealthiest among us skew toward the coasts. Whereas 22 percent of the rest of us live in the Midwest, you'll find only 14 percent of the those households at the top living in “America's Heartland.” 

3. They're More Republican 

Interestingly, those at the top are no more likely to identify themselves as conservatives, or less likely to see themselves as liberals, than the other 99 percent. They aren't more likely to favor forced childbirth or worry about the War on Christmas — social issues — but they know where their bread is buttered (or buttered more heavily), so despite the fact that they don't differ much ideologically, they're significantly more likely to support Republicans.

When you include independents who lean towards one party or another, the top 1 percent skews towards the GOP by a 57–36 margin, compared to the other 99 percent, which leans Democratic, 47–44. 

4. They Make More Than $500K per Year 

As Suzy Khimm notes in the Washington Post, the income cut-off for those households in the top 1 percent was $516,633 last year, down from $646,195 before the crash. But that's the floor — the average income for those in the top 1 percent this year is $1,530,773. (A "household" in this sense can be a single person or a family — it's also known as a "tax unit.")

5. And Have Plenty of Accumulated Wealth

Accumulated wealth is even more skewed towards the top than income, and in 2009, the top 1 percent of households were sitting on an average net worth of almost $14 million, according to a study by the Economic Policy Institute. Here's another chart from Mother Jones:



What's more, the other 99 percent have been falling behind. In 2009, the ratio of net worth between those in the top 1 percent and a household right in the middle of the pack was 225-to-1 – the highest on record. In 1962, that figure stood at 125-to-1. Here's a chart showing the shift, courtesy of EPI:



6. They've Taken an Ever-Bigger Piece of the Pie

Between 1949 and 1979, those at the top 1 percent took in 10 percent of our pretax income. In Reagan's final year in office, they grabbed 15.5 percent of the nation's income. 

By the time George W. Bush was elected, they were taking in 21.5 percent. And in 2007, the year before the crash, they were pulling in 23.5 percent of our pretax income, leaving the other 99 percent to share just 76.5 percent of the fruits of America's economic output. 

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