What is Occupy Wall Street? A Misrepresentation

When speaking about demographics one is describing the basic characteristics that make up a human being. A demographic is a person’s race, economic or economic class, education, gender, age, etc. Therefore, when attempting to answer the question, “What is Occupy Wall Street?” in terms of demographics it only makes sense that the response is simply an explanation of who the people of OWS are. Although OWS is an extremely complex movement with many different facets, its demographics are not so complex. Occupy Wall Street is a social and economic movement that is claiming to represent the 99% but is failing to do so. Occupy Wall Street is a misrepresentation.

 In three of my previous posts “Race is Important Too,” “Is OWS Racist?” and, “A Visual Representation,” (links to all three posts are provided below) I examined three separate studies done on the demographics of OWS. All three studies provided me with extremely similar findings.  I made the decision to look at four particular demographics that are irrevocably interconnected with socioeconomic status, a major concern of the OWS movement: Age, Race, Employment, and Education. First of all, the vast majority of either respondents or interviewees were white. In two of the studies less than 2% of OWS supporters were African American, less than 8% of respondents were Hispanic or Latino, and less than 4% were Asian. Second, The majority of supporters were between the ages of 25 and 44.  Third, the highest percentage of OWS supporters were employed full-time in each study. Finally, most supporters had at least a college education.

 I decided that I wanted to draw a comparison between these statistics and the latest demographical studies done by the US Census Bureau. As of 2010 there were approximately 308.7 million people in the United States. If we’re to go by what OWS claims, that means that 1% of the United States population includes 3, 087,000 people. Therefore, 305,613,000 Americans are included in the 99%.  This being such a large number still, US Census Bureau findings are applicable to the 99%.

 According to the US Census Bureau, the highest percentage of Americans are actually over the age of 45 at almost 40%, while in the OWS movement the majority of supports are below 44 and older than 25. The biggest difference between the Census statistics and those of the OWS movement was in education. Most of the OWS supporters in the studies done have had at least a college education. According to the Bureau 4 out of 5 Americans have a high school education or lower and only 1 in 4 or 28% have a college degree or higher. This is a pretty large discrepancy. In terms of race, the US Census Bureau’s findings are that approximately 72.4% of Americans are white with Hispanics/Latinos as the second largest racial group at 16.4%. African Americans are the third largest group at 12.6%. Although these numbers do not seem too far off from those of the studies on OWS, there are a few things to consider. Yes, this is a majority Caucasian country. However, the difference between the national percentages of Hispanics and African Americans and their presence in the OWS movement is significant. 12.6% of Americans are African American and yet less than 2% of the OWS supporter basis comes from that racial group. It is a similar case with Hispanics/Latinos who make up 16.4% of the United States’ population and are only around 8% of the OWS movement. Employment seemed to be the only comparable statistic with the national unemployment rate at around 8.2% and around 14% of OWS being unemployed. Although,  I question why a group demanding socioeconomic inequality and injustices is, for the most part, employed full-time themselves.

 I want to make it clear as I did in my, “Is OWS Racist,” post that although race has been a significant issue in the OWS movement, I do not consider the movement to be racist. In her post titled, Shepard Fairey and OWS Part 2 Evelyn made this comment at the end, “It seems like minority populations didn’t receive the invite, or might not have received it well.” I would agree with this a hundred percent. For whatever the reason, minority groups have not rallied around this cause. However, I will claim like I did in my, “Counterargument: Steps Toward Diversity,” post that OWS is making moves toward changing this. Nick’s post, “Kanye West and Russell Simons Occupy,” shows that this is happening. Two prominent African American celebrities have stepped out declared support for OWS. Again, although I claim that OWS does not represent the 99% accurately, one thing that OWS is not is racist.

 Occupy Wall Street is many things. Some of these descriptions are imposed upon the movement by those that are third-party observers. The one description of the movement that everyone can agree on is one that the movement has placed upon itself: “We are the 99%”. Sorry, OWS, this is just not true.

-Caitlin J.

Links to my previous posts:





Links to references posts:



Link to US Census Bureau:



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