Median American Household Lost One-Third of Wealth in Last Decade

“There are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth experienced by American families during the Great Recession."

A new estimate by the Russell Sage Foundation found that the median American household experienced a loss of more than one-third of its wealth over the last decade, plummeting from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013.

The Washington Examiner reports:

Researchers writing for the left-of-center think tank found that median net worth declined from $87,992 in 2003 to $56,335 in 2013. The study examined data from the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, a longitudinal survey of American households run by the University of Michigan.

Median household wealth peaked at just under $100,000 in 2007, right before the housing bubble burst and the financial crisis began. While the researchers for the Russell Sage Foundation found that households in the top 10 percent have recovered the wealth levels of 2003, lower-wealth households have not.

The study summary explains that while the stock market has returned to pre-recession levels, Americans' greatest source of wealth, housing, is still down 20% from 2007, and unemployment, though improved, is still significantly higher than the 4.7% of 2007: 

The housing, stock, and job markets have all improved since 2009, but at very different rates. The stock market rebounded relatively quickly and returned to prerecession levels by the middle of 2013. The July 2013 unemployment rate of 7.4 percent was below the recession peak of 10.0 percent, but was still substantially higher than the 4.7 percent rate of mid-2007. However, the most important source of wealth for most Americans is their home, and by mid-2013 home prices were still 20 percent below their mid-2007 values. 

The author's of the report saw "few signs" of a true recovery: “There are very few signs of significant recovery from the losses in wealth experienced by American families during the Great Recession,” they wrote.

The foundation’s findings are consistent with other recent studies, like that of NYU's Edward Wolff, who likewise calculated a one-third decline from 2001 to 2010. 

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