U.S. household wealth eroded by recession

Household wealth plunged $16 trillion from the third Household wealth plunged $16 trillion from the third quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009. By the final three months of 2012, American households as a group had regained $14.7 trillion. Photo Credit: Handout

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The average U.S. household has a long way to go to recover the wealth it lost to the Great Recession, according to a new report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

 

The typical household has regained less than half its wealth, the analysis found. A separate Federal Reserve report in March calculated that Americans as a whole had regained 91 percent of their losses.

 

Household wealth plunged $16 trillion from the third quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009. By the final three months of 2012, American households as a group had regained $14.7 trillion.

 

Yet once those figures are adjusted for inflation and population growth, the average household has recovered only 45 percent of its wealth, the St. Louis Fed concluded.

 

The number of U.S. households grew 3.8 million to 115 million from the third quarter of 2007 through the final three months of last year. As a result, the rebound in wealth has been spread across more people. In addition, though inflation has averaged just 2 percent over the past five years, it's eroded some of the purchasing power of Americans' regained wealth.

 

The St. Louis Fed also noted the rebound hasn't been equally distributed. Nearly two-thirds of the increase since 2009 is due to rising stock prices. Those gains disproportionately benefit affluent households, since 80 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent.

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