The wealthiest segment of the population has been our obsession for a very long time. Though they never leave the public discourse, the hyper-wealthy remain an elusive mystery. Much more than who they are by name and profession, we want to know how they live and spend their billions of dollars.
So, who are the infamous one percent?
Let’s take a look at the wealthiest groups of people in the world and return to the US for a revealing demographic breakdown. Here’s how much money you need to enter the exclusive one percent club.
The wealthiest group of people
For transparency reasons or simply to make us jealous, Forbes makes a list of the world’s wealthiest people every year. In 2021, 2,755 individuals from different walks of life were rich enough to make it to one percent. According to Forbes, that is 660 more people than a year before. Their total net worth?
An eye-watering $13.1 trillion.
(One trillion is the equivalent of 1000 billion or 1 million millions.)
A comprehensive wealth report by Knight Frank reveals just how thick your wallet must be if you want to join the one percent in any of the first thirty countries with the highest number of billionaires, from Monaco to Kenya. Surprisingly, the top countries on the list have fewer zeros than one would expect:
- Monaco – $7.9 million;
- Switzerland – $5.1 million;
- US – $4.4 million;
- Singapore – $2.9 million;
- New Zealand – $2.8 million;
- Hong Kong – $2.8 million;
- Australia – $2.8 million;
- Ireland – $2.6 million;
- France – $2.1 million;
- Germany – $2.1 million.
The top 1% in the US
In the US, the number of billionaires in 2021 was a bit shy of one hundred – 927, to be exact. Together, they were worth $3.71 trillion. Even though the US has the highest number of one percent citizens, it’s still only the third country in the world based on the barrier to entry, behind Monaco and Switzerland.
According to many reports, the poorest wealthy individual belonging to the one percent of the US population has a net worth of around $11.1 million. That’s 2.5 times more than what Knight Frank’s research shows. So, which is it? Could a measly millionaire join the fat cats, or is their club more exclusive than that?
According to the Economic Policy Institute, a US citizen must earn around $823,763 a year to qualify for a place in the one percent. Per household, that’s at least $2.9 million annually. To put this in context, the average annual income in the US in 2021 was $45,470, while an average household earned $70,784.
Even though $2.9 million doesn’t seem too steep for a VIP ticket to financial paradise, the gap between median and high earners is enormous and getting worse every year. Also, income is not the same as net worth. The latter includes two things that make this gap impossible to bridge – assets and inheritance.
Many of the one percent members are born into one percent wealth.
However, unlike these incredibly lucky few, a great number of these wealthy people actually earn their money. Research shows that most of them are different from how they are depicted in media and movies. They come from different industries and backgrounds – many of them are doctors, entrepreneurs, and lawyers.
How much they earn
Based on the latest calculations, the wealthiest one percent in the US earn:
- $401,622 per individual;
- $570,003 per household.
The annual income of the average household is nine times less than that.
The average annual salary of hyper-rich Americans varies from state to state, but it’s never lower than several hundred thousand dollars. In this sense, Connecticut is the most affluent US state – here, a one percent household earns nearly $900,000 a year. Alabama is the “poorest,” with a $430,000 income.
We trust this post answers how much wealth to be in the top 1 percent. As we’ve already mentioned, there’s a crucial difference between income and net worth. While income is simply the amount of money an individual or household earns during a specific period, net worth is the total value of assets minus debt. Net worth is a better indicator of wealth than income.
A typical one percent household in the US has a minimum net worth of $10,374,030.
For comparison, the average net worth in the US is $121,700.
According to math, the wealthiest Americans are 85 times richer than an average Joe.
So the next time you stop to wonder what is a good rate for a personal loan or how to invest your hard-earned money to get the highest ROI, try not to think about these figures. If you work hard enough and make smart investments, no gap should be unbridgeable – not even the one leading to the one percent.