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AAA  Jun. 14, 2013
Lost wealth: Many still wait
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U.S. household wealth rose to $70 trillion at the end of the first quarter of this year. After 5½ years, Americans have regained the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession.

A Federal Reserve report shows that total wealth topped its previous peak of $68 trillion, reached in 2007 just before the recession began.

But that's for the nation as a whole. The typical household still hasn't recovered.

Here's why: The wealth recovery has been driven by the stock market, which has more than doubled since bottoming in 2009. About 80 percent of stocks are held by the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. For most of them, stocks are their largest source of wealth.

By contrast, home values are the biggest chunk of wealth for middle- and lower-income households. And home prices remain about 30 percent below their peak.

Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis cited other factors that have held back a complete recovery. Inflation, though low, has eroded some of the purchasing power of the recovered wealth. And the number of households grew 3.8 million to 115 million. So the wealth is now spread across more households.

The nation’s wealth has increased by 3.4 percent since the third quarter of 2007. But the average household's net worth, when adjusted for inflation, is still only at 90.3 percent of the pre-recession peak.

Associated Press
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