Who Are The Occupy Wall Street Protesters? Surprising Answers

Author: October 19, 2011 7:37 pm

The Occupy Wall Street movement is now a month old. The media, with their incessant need to pigeon hole, has no idea which cliche to turn to when describing the protesters.

Of course, the media misses the point of the protests, which is complicated but also as simple as saying that we want our democracy back from the corporations. We want our elected officials to start answering to their constituencies, not to the Chairman of Exxon Mobile or of Bank of America. If that single problem was solved, we would begin to see more jobs. We would begin to see less student debt. We would see single payer healthcare. I could go on.

But okay, let’s throw the media a bone. Who are the protesters? Who are the people playing bongos in their lululemon yoga pants? Before I get into that, I’d like to make a little side note. The media has made a big deal of the bongo drums, as if they somehow delegitimize the movement (and 21st century men carrying muskets and wearing powdered wigs represent a legitimate movement). When you spend 24 hours a day in the same place, you need something to do. Bongos are fun. They are an outlet for energy. They are social. Isn’t it better they hit the bongos than the cops that are hitting them?

Back to the question. Who are the protesters? The media calls them hippies or rich kids or slackers or yuppies. The protesters call themselves the 99%…the people who are in the bottom 99% income bracket in the United States. The top one percent of the country earns 35% of the wealth. The top 10% of the country earns over 70% of the wealth. The rest of us get the scraps. Presumably, the 99% would represent every demographic, including those in the upper incomes.

Hector R. Cordero-Guzman, Ph.D., School of Public Affairs, Baruch College Ph.D. Programs in Sociology and Urban Education City University of New York, examined data from the web traffic at occupywallstreet.org.


Traffic on the Occupy Wall Street site averaged about 400,000 visitors a day during the sample week (October 7th). 1619 people completed the survey.

Age

Not surprising, nearly 2/3 of the protesters are under 35. But one in three is over 35 and one in five is over 45.

Racial/Ethnic background

81.3% of respondents considered themselves White, 1.3% Black\African American, 3.2% Asian, .4% Native American Indian, 2.9% Mixed, 7.7% Hispanic, and 3.2% considered themselves some other group.

Education

Only 7.9% of respondents lack at least some college.

27.4% have some college (but no degree), 35% have a college degree, 8.2% have some graduate school (but no degree), and close to 21.5% have a graduate school degree.

Employment Status

70% of respondents had jobs. 50.4% worked full time. 20.4% worked part time.

Only 13.1% are unemployed.

Income

47.5% of the sample earns less than $24,999 dollars a year and another quarter (24%) earn between $25,000 and $49,999 per year.

71.5% of the sample earns less than $50,000 per year.

15.4% of the sample earned between $50,000 and $74,999.

The remainder 13% of the sample earn over $75,000 with close to 2% earning over $150,000 per year.

Politics

27.3% of respondents considered themselves Democrats, another 2.4% said they were Republican.

Interestingly, a very large proportion of the sample, close to 70.3%, considered themselves Independents.

Cordero-Guzman concluded that the 99% looked like the 99%.

The one way they did significantly differ was in gender. 67% were male. 30.9% were female and 2% preferred another gender designation.

92.5% of the respondents either strongly or somewhat agree with the protests. Over 91.8% believe the movement is likely to grow.

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10 Comments

  • I’m looking for a metaphor which is apt for my perception of what is going on. The “war” is in our mind. No, the “revolution” is in our mind. No, money is an evil system of domination and control for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

    No, I think “It’s all US” is better still. There are many things going on and many people trying to contain and control the “message ” of the protests.

    Whatever you THINK is happening, that’s only a small piece of what is happenign. There is ALWAYS more truth. Seek the truth. Speak the truth. Support the truth. It’s all about the truth.

  • “Traffic on the Occupy Wall Street site averaged about 400,000 visitors a day during the sample week (October 7th), which represents more than 10% of the population.” Wouldn’t you need 30 million people for 10% of the population? 400k people per day, per week is only 2.8 million. I must be missing something…

  • Thank you for that link. I’ve been posting quotes from early Presidents & what they thought of corporations. My printed copy is wearing out!

    “I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” Thomas Jefferson

    “I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country….corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.” Abraham Lincoln

  • Remember they have a blind eye and here what they want to. If it is not in the news every day it,s not happening.Play it down keep quiet it will go away soon.WELL I SAY USE YOUR POWER GET OUT AND VOTE IN 2013.PUT THEIR SORRY ASSES ON THE UNEMPLOYMENT HELL LINE.VOTE IN PEOPLE THAT WILL LISTEN TO WHAT WE WANT AND NEED IF THEY DON,T GIVE THEM THE BOOT.WE HAVE BECOME SO LAZY WHEN IT COMES TIME TO VOTE THINKING EVERYBODY ELSE WILL DO IT OR I DON,T HAVE TIME,IT,S RAINING OR SNOWING JUST GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND DO IT FILL YOUR CAR WITH VOTERS AND GO.THEY LOVE IT WHEN YOU SIT ON YOUR ASS THEY WIN BECAUSE YOU GAVE UP.REMEMBER “”VOTING IS YOUR POWER””TAKE BACK OUR COUNTRY IN 2013.

    • I have to respectfully beg to differ with you here. It’s not necessarily our elected officials to blame for being so powerless. Rather, it’s the flawed system they’re forced to operate in. It’s the SYSTEM that’s broken, and it needs to be fixed before any substantive change can take place in our government. Your votes don’t count in Washington. That’s the problem. Our federal government system is not the Democratic system so many of us want to believe it is. It’s Pluralist. All decisions in Washington are made through Lobbying, which, in my opinion is nothing more than a form of legalized bribery, and until we can do away with all the Lobbying, so-called Special Interest Groups, and money changing hands to set policy, it won’t matter who holds the offices. They’ll still be as powerless to do anything. Replace them all today, it’ll still be the same tomorrow. I would go even further and suggest we do away with all the exhorbitant benefits the Feds receive, because they only incentivize self-serving people to want to hold those jobs. Only then will we see a return to a government Of the People, By the People, and For the People. POWER TO THE PEOPLE!!!! And yes, keep voting! Just don’t be surprised when your vote doesn’t count…

  • The media will not focus on the OWS message, that message is what they have been told by their 1%’er owners to belittle and deny. The tactic is standard make-fun-of-the-different, mock the dress, manner, behavior and tone of voice, anything that makes the protestor different from the investor. “We won’t listen to you because you don’t look and behave like us.”

    The media will not focus on the Tea Party message, that message is what they have been told by their Big Goverment owners to belittle and deny. The tactic is standard make-fun-of-the-different, mock the dress, manner, behavior and tone of voice, anything that makes the protestor different from the investor. “We won’t listen to you because you don’t look and behave like us.”

    I changed four words, now what is the difference

    • “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” M. Gandhi

    • “I changed four words, now what is the difference”

      I’m assuming that’s a question. If so, here’s the answer: the four words transformed the reality-based first paragraph about Occupy Wall Street into the fictional second paragraph about the Tea Party.

      Seriously – the Tea Party started out wall-to-wall reported (and sponsored) by Fox “News”. Then the message infiltrated the MSM (take, for example, CNN’s partnership with the Tea Party in the Republican Debate last month).

      So, the second paragraph is a fiction that wishes to mask the increasing irrelevance of a tired movement of grumpy, misinformed, propaganda-deranged, self-defeating teabots. That’s the only thing that makes that brand of tea ever so sweet to free thinking people.

  • Second Amendment Democrat

    The media will not focus on the OWS message, that message is what they have been told by their 1%’er owners to belittle and deny. The tactic is standard make-fun-of-the-different, mock the dress, manner, behavior and tone of voice, anything that makes the protestor different from the investor. “We won’t listen to you because you don’t look and behave like us.”

    The other standard GOP tactic is to call what WE do “class war,” when in fact they have been waging it on the ordinary citizen since the founding of the country. http://thehivedaily.com/blog/2011/08/29/what-the-founding-fathers-thought-about-corporations/

    This is modus operandi of the Tea Party, birthers, “Obamacare” detractors, the whole Fox News/Kock agenda. Say or do something unethical and nasty, and then blame it on the other side. A little kid punches another and starts crying, “Mommy, he hit me.” Same principle. Same solution. Don’t wait for mommy. Smack ‘em down. Kick ‘em where it hurts – in their VOTES! The vote is the politician’s testicles, his weak spot, his Achilles balls. Lose a vote and you lose a few pubes. Lose ALL the votes and you lose your power – ShaZAM…

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