Middle-class catastrophe – U.S. Economy – Salon.com

12 Jun

Bottom line — Americans got hammered by the crash. The median net worth of the American family fell by 38 percent between 2007 and 2010, from an average of $126,400 to $77,3000. Median income fell by 7.7 percent. It was the worst decline in both categories since the survey started in 1989.

The distribution of the losses tells us that the middle class took the brunt of the damage, in terms of both net worth and income. But there are some interesting statistical oddities. For the lowest-income quintile of the American public, income actually rose by about 4 percent. Meanwhile, the top 10 percent of Americans saw their net worth tick up slightly.

The housing bust explains the divergence. Middle-class Americans tend to have most of their wealth invested in their homes. The nationwide collapse in housing prices clobbered home equity, but the poor and the rich were mostly insulated from the damage. The fact that income rose, slightly, for the poorest Americans is still a bit of a mystery.

via Middle-class catastrophe – U.S. Economy – Salon.com.

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