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


Andrew Leonard
June 12, 2009 6:13PM (UTC)

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.

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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.

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Andrew Leonard

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

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