Dec. 8 (UPI) -- The wealthiest 1 percent in the United States now own 40 percent of the nation's wealth - the highest wealth disparity in the last 50 years, according to a paper published Thursday.
New York University economist Edward N. Wolff used data from the federal Survey of Consumer Finances and found that the top 1 percent has been steadily increasing its share of the wealth since 1962, when it owned 33 percent.
The top 1 percent's share of wealth is at its highest point since 1995, when it owned 38.5 percent.
Wolff also found that the nation's richest 20 percent own 90 percent of the wealth, a number that has also steadily increased since 1962, when that demographic owned 81 percent.
If the next 60 percent of the population considered "middle class" and the bottom 20 percent the "lower class," then the middle class accounts for only 10 percent of the nation's wealth, while the lower class is at -.08 percent.
For the middle class, wealth has shrunk by 50 percent since 1962, when it owned 20 percent of the wealth. For the lower class, there hasn't been much change. Back then, they had -.07 percent.
In dollar amount averages, the top 20 percent's average net worth is $3 million, the second 20 percent averages $273,600 and the third 20 percent has $81,700, according to the Washington Post.
The bottom 40 percent are all in debt with an average net worth of -$8,900.