The Great Recession Destroyed Median Household Wealth in the United States - Pacific Standard

The Great Recession Destroyed Median Household Wealth in the United States

The net worth of the median household fell from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013, for a decline of 36 percent.
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(Photo: qvist/Shutterstock)

(Photo: qvist/Shutterstock)

According to a June 2014 Russell Sage Foundation report, the average U.S. household experienced a real wealth decline of more than one-third over the 10 years ending in 2013.

Table 1 shows that the net worth of the median household fell from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013, for a decline of 36 percent. In fact, the last 10 years were hard on the overwhelming majority of American households. Only the top two groups enjoyed wealth gains over the period. Also noteworthy is the tiny net worth of households below the median.

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Figure 1 provides a longer term perspective on wealth movements. We can see that most households enjoyed growing wealth from 1984 to the 2007 crisis, with wealth falling across the board since. However, the median household is now significantly poorer than it was in 1984. Only the richer households managed to maintain most of their earlier gains in wealth.

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These trends highlight the fact that we have a growing inequality of wealth, as well as of income, and they are not likely to reverse on their own.

This post originally appeared on Sociological Images, a Pacific Standard partner site, as “Saturday Stat: Median Household Wealth Fell by 1/3 Since 2003.”

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