Oxfam: Richest 1 percent received 82 percent of wealth in 2017

Traders work on the floor of the NYSE at the Closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street in New York City on January 17, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 26,000 for the first time in history. On Friday, Oxfam released a report that found the wealthiest 1 percent received 82 percent of the world's wealth last year. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI

Jan. 22 (UPI) — The world’s richest 1 percent received 82 percent of all wealth generated last year, while the world’s poorest 3.7 billion people saw no wealth increase at all, according to an Oxfam report released Friday.

The report found that the world’s billionaires have seen their wealth increase by an average rate of 13 percent every year since 2010, which was “six times faster than the wages of ordinary workers, which have risen by a yearly average of just 2 percent,” Oxfam said.

There are also a growing number of billionaires, with a new person being able to claim the title every two days between March 2016 and March 2017.

“The billionaire boom is not a sign of a thriving economy but a symptom of a failing economic system,” said Winnie Byanyima, the executive director of Oxfam International. “The people who make our clothes, assemble our phones and grow our food are being exploited to ensure a steady supply of cheap goods, and swell the profits of corporations and billionaire investors.”

The report also pointed out some disparities between the world’s wealthiest and poorest.

“It takes just four days for a CEO from one of the top five global fashion brands to earn what a Bangladeshi garment worker will earn in her lifetime,” the report states. “In the United States, it takes slightly over one working day for a CEO to earn what an ordinary worker makes in a year.”

Raising wages of garment workers in poor countries wouldn’t necessarily be a debilitating cost, Oxfam found, estimating that it would cost $2.2 billion per year to give 2.5 million Vietnamese garment workers a living wage.

“This is about a third of the amount paid out to wealthy shareholders by the top 5 companies in the garment sector in 2016,” the report states.

Oxfam said it released its report in time for the Word Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the “political and business elites gather.”

The forum is scheduled to begin on Tuesday.


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