“Low- and moderate-income people have to build wealth by saving and investing in stock and then reinvesting.” –C. Eugene Steuerle, Urban Institute
Wealth increased in America by $4.6 trillion from 2014-2015 and reached $85.9 trillion. That’s more than twice the wealth increase of the next largest increase country, China, which increased $1.49 trillion, according to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report. Impressive, but it’s mostly concentrated in the hands of the top one percent who now are believed to own as much as the remaining 99 percent of us worldwide.
In America, the top 10 percent of households own as much as 76 percent of total family wealth; those between the 51st percentile and the 90th percentile own 23 percent of total wealth and those in the bottom half held only one percent, as of 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Wealth inequality is extremely high.
How do we spread the wealth? As of April of last year, only 52 percent of Americans owned stock as an investment, down from 65 percent in 2007. Lower- and middle-income Americans are the ones who have left the stock market, given their losses from the Great Recession of 2008.
But provided an opportunity, there’s no better place to invest then the company for which you work. America needs to create mechanisms to create company ownership opportunities. ESOPs, Employee Stock Ownership Plans, are a great place to start. Employee ownership builds employee loyalty, commitment and company problem solving. It fosters diversification of decision making.
Low-income Americans need Horizonte-like opportunity. They need education and training. Horizonte, Salt Lake City School District’s alternative high school and adult education center, provides a new beginning for the formerly unsuccessful. Earn your high school diploma, qualify for applied tech certificate training or college and a privately-funded Horizonte Scholarship is yours to support you to your certificate or associate degree. It’s all about opportunity!