U.S. household net worth falling sharply

June 18, 2012 at 1:20 PM
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WASHINGTON, June 18 (UPI) -- Falling stock markets and home values contributed to a 35 percent drop in the U.S. median household net worth from 2005 to 2010, the Census Bureau said Monday.

The net worth is the value of a household's assets minus its debts. The median value for a group is the point halfway between the top and the bottom.

The Census Bureau said excluding home equity the median household net worth rose 8 percent from 2009 to 2010, increasing from $13,859 to $15,000.

That shows the net worth of U.S. households still relies heavily on the value of their homes and that falling home prices make up most of the country's declining median net worth.

The data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, show that the median net value fell for every age group. But it fell sharpest among younger households, with the median net value dropping 37 percent from $8,528 to $5,402 for those under 35.

For those 65 and older, the net value dropped from $195,890 to $170,128, a 13 percent decline.

The difference sharp difference between the value of the household worth for those under 35 compared to those over 65 can, again, be explained by the value of homes.

A family just starting out has little equity, if any, built up from their homes. For those families, a home represents debt.

A household with members age 65 and older are far more likely to own their home or to have sold one. For those families, a home often represents equity, which is an asset.

Similarly, the Census Bureau said, declines were felt at every educational level.

The median net value dropped 39 percent for people with high school diplomas and 32 percent for those with bachelor's degrees.

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