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Tell that to the staff at Downton Abbey! As inequality grows, the wealthy account for a greater share of income and spending and that is a boost for companies and workers catering to the wealthy. Nathan Wilmers, a sociology Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, looked at how the growing impact of wealthy consumers is reshaping the economy and wages. Consumer spending by the top 5 percent of households has grown 5.2 percent a year since 1989, while spending by the bottom 95 percent has grown at 2.8 percent, Wilmers said. "The disproportionate growth of high-income consumers means that the U.S. economy caters increasingly to the preferences of elite spenders," he wrote. So what does this mean for the companies and workers? "The increased influence of these consumers sets up big rewards for businesses that create and sell the sorts of products the affluent want." Specifically, he looked at salaries for butlers, wine producers, realtors, lawyers and bankers and found that those who are best at their professions and excel at skills valued by the wealthy have the highest wages.

— Robert Frank, CNBC