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U.S. Household Wealth: A Lost Generation

The wealth of U.S. households has fallen to its lowest level in half a century.

April 24, 2014

Credit: Susan Law Cain -

Data source: The Asset Price Meltdown and the Wealth of the Middle Class, by Edward N. Wolff (PDF). Graph adapted from What Went Wrong by George R. Tyler (BenBella Books, 2013)


1. Median U.S. household wealth, net of debt, was $57,000 in 2010 (measured in 2007 U.S. dollars), according to wealth expert Edward N. Wolff of New York University.

2. The 2010 level of median U.S. household debt is lower than it was in 1969 ($63,600) — and every year in the four decades since.

3. Median U.S. household wealth increased during much of the last half-century as housing prices rose.

4. However, the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2008 and high debt returned net household wealth to its lowest level in half a century.

5. Housing prices have stabilized since 2008. But most of the gains in value have been in liquid assets such as stocks, whose ownership is highly concentrated.

6. Some 83% of non-house wealth in 2007 was held by the top 10% of income-earners and 93% by the top 20%.

This Globalist Charticle is adapted from George R. Tyler’s What Went Wrong (BenBella Books, 2013)

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