Update: My previous title, “93% of U.S. Households Got Poorer from 2009-2011,” was misleading. It isn’t true that all households in the lower 93% lost wealth from 2009 to 2011. Rather, the gains of those who went up in net worth were more than overcome by the losses of those who went down, the result being that, on average, this population had a 4% loss in net worth. My apologies.
It’d be one thing if everyone were getting richer, but the super-rich (with more assets invested) were simply getting richer at a faster rate. What’s devastating is that the inequality gap is increasing precipitously with the vast majority of Americans actually losing ground, on an absolute scale (rather than just a relative scale). This is happening while 90 million Americans ages 16 or older are not working, or looking for work, and while one in six is living below the povery line.
To what does Pew attribute these findings?
These wide variances were driven by the fact that the stock and bond market rallied during the 2009 to 2011 period while the housing market remained flat.
Affluent households typically have their assets concentrated in stocks and other financial holdings, while less affluent households typically have their wealth more heavily concentrated in the value of their home.
Those interested (and statistically savvy) may wish to digest the entire report.