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Household net worth slides 35%, Census Bureau says

Household heads ages 35 to 44 -- the group usually saddled with a mortgage and college-bound kids -- have watched their median net worth slump 59% from before the recession.

It's the most painful decline among age groups studied by the Census Bureau. Overall, American net worth took a 35% dive from 2005 to 2010, according to data tables released Monday.

That's a slide to $66,740, from $102,844 in 2010 constant dollars, reflecting "drops in housing values and stock market indices," said Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck in a statement.

Compared with 2009's median of $68,900, net worth was down more than 3% in 2010. Last week, the Federal Reserve said the typical American family lost nearly 40% of its wealth from 2007 to 2010, with net worth down to $77,300, from $126,400, adjusting for inflation. 

But take out home equity and net worth goes up 8% between 2009 and 2010, according to the Census Bureau report.

Households run by those 65 or older saw net worth decrease 13% to $170,128. Household heads under age 35 suffered a 37% plunge to $5,402.

All groups regardless of educational level experienced a decline, though more schooling means higher net worth, according to the Census Bureau.

The median for those with a high school diploma was $42,223, compared with $142,518 for those with a bachelor’s degree and $245,763 for those with a graduate or professional degree.

And the chasm is widening. College graduates made nearly twice as much as those with only a high school diploma in 2000. In 2010, they were making nearly 3 1/2 times as much.


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