How much poorer are Americans now?

Since December 2007, U.S. households have lost $14 trillion dollars. The good news: Piggy banks are back in fashion

By Andrew Leonard

Published June 12, 2009 2:13PM (EDT)

According to the Federal Reserve's "Flow of Funds" report, released Thursday, the net worth of households in the United States is $50.4 trillion. That's $1.3 trillion less than the total at the beginning of 2009, and $14 trillion less than at the beginning of the recession in December 2007.

Numbers that huge are hard to grapple with, so here's a simple way to think about it. U.S. households are about 25 percent poorer than they were at the end of 2007.

FreeExchange and Calculated Risk break down the most recent figures. In the first quarter of 2009, most of the losses were registered in home prices ($500 billion), stock holdings, ($300 billion), and pension fund reserves, ($540 billion).

How have Americans responded to this body blow? By saving. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the personal savings rate is now at a 14 year high of 5.7 percent. The BEA has a great chart which makes the change in behavior drastically apparent.

So maybe we are rational, after all.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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