Household net worth slides 35%, Census Bureau says

Michael and Patricia Jackson stand in the doorway of their home in Marietta, Ga.
Michael and Patricia Jackson stand in the doorway of their home in Marietta, Ga.
(David Goldman / Associated Press)

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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