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About half of America has zero net wealth

Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.

Wealth is the value of everything you own: stocks, bonds, your home, your car -- minus your debts. And while income inequality has taken center stage in debates about the growing gap between rich and poor, what's happening with wealth paints an even more staggering picture.

The wealth share of the 0.01 percent, or the top 16,000 families in America, has skyrocketed. That tiny group now owns 12 percent of the wealth in America.

The wealth of the larger one percent  -- and even the .5 percent -- isn't rising.

These days, if you want to be among the biggest winners, says UC Berkeley researcher Gabriel Zucman, who co-wrote a new report on wealth, it helps to be in the 0.1 percent or better.

Around 50 percent of the US population, Zucman said, has zero net wealth. Their debts, effectively, equal their assets. 

About the author

Noel King is a reporter for Marketplace's Wealth and Poverty desk.

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