How was their money made? Almost entirely by passively waiting for the stock market to go up. The data sources for this report are Forbes and Credit Suisse, both of which provide precise numbers for the worsening surge in America’s wealth inequality. U.S. wealth increased by $8.5 trillion in 2017, with the richest 2% getting about $1.15 trillion (details here), which is more than the total cost of Medicaid (federal AND state) and the complete safety net, both mandatory and discretionary, including the low-income programs that make up the social support package derisively referred to as ‘welfare.’ Surprisingly, the richest 1% did not increase their wealth by much in 2017 (although they took nearly $4 trillion in 2016). That means the second half of the richest 2%, Americans with an average net worth of approximately $10 million, outgained the safety net all by themselves in the past year.