The wealthy are getting wealthier. As for everyone else, no such luck.
A report released on Wednesday by the Pew Research Center found that the wealth gap between the country’s top 20 percent of earners and the rest of America had stretched to its widest point in at least three decades.
Last year, the median net worth of upper-income families reached $639,400, nearly seven times as much of those in the middle, and nearly 70 times the level of those at the bottom of the income ladder.
There has been growing attention to the issue of income inequality, particularly the plight of those earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or close to it.
But while income and wealth are related (the more you make, the more you can save and invest), the wealth gap zeros in on a different aspect of financial well-being: how much money and other assets you have accumulated over time, including the value of your home and car plus any investments in stocks, bonds and the like.
Think of it as “a measure of the family ‘nest egg,’ ” as Pew calls it — a hoard that can sustain a household during an emergency, like the loss of a job, and in the long run can see someone through retirement.
The wealth gap “exposes varying degrees of vulnerability,” said Valerie Wilson, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a left-of-center research group in Washington, adding that it also was passed down through the generations.
While those at the top have...