Two new reports on the U.S. economy this week illustrate a tale of two Americas and an apparently growing wealth gap, where one group is earning perhaps more than ever and the other continues to struggle financially.
On one hand, there’s the rich, whose ranks are dramatically increasing. Researchers from the Boston Consulting Group recently released the findings from their 2015 report on the nation’s upper class, which shows massive increases in the number of millionaires and billionaires since 2010, with more than 100 Americans joining the ranks of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg since 2011, according to a recent Barron’s Magazine write up.
Most notable from the study, however, was the fact that there are now at least one million American “penta-millionaires”—those with assets of $5 million or more. That’s a 5% rise from 2014, according to Barron’s, and a “historic threshold,” according to David M. Thompson, managing director of the Rhinebeck, NY wealth research firm Phoenix Affluent Practice.
“This is the first time that has happened since we started measuring these markets in the mid-1980s,” Thompson told Barron’s.
In total, there were 6,789,666 millionaires in 2015, an increase of 41.5% from 2010. Since that year, the number of people worth $20 – $100 million increased a whopping 63.5%. The number of people worth $100 million – $1 billion jumped by an equally stunning 61%, according to Barron’s.
Despite the new crop of increasingly-younger mega rich Americans, the majority of the nation’s populous is earning less money than it did 16 years ago, though that trend has changed slightly. The U.S. Census on Tuesday reported America’s median income rose 5.2% in 2015 to more than $56,500, according to CNN Money, but that figure is still less than the $57,342 median income the nation enjoyed in 2000, according to Austria’s Mises Institute of Economics.
The majority of the income increase last year came from the nation’s poorest economic group, which saw its earnings jump 10% while America’s top earners saw the least income growth, CNN Money reported.