NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 12, 2007

Tucked deep within the Federal Reserve Board's trove of statistics lies an innocent-sounding series called "net worth of households."  It may sound boring, but it says a lot about how we're doing, as a nation and as individuals, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

New data out last week show we're doing pretty well:

  • In the fourth quarter of 2006, total net worth -- that is, everything people own minus what they owe -- jumped 7.4 percent to $55.63 trillion.
  • The United States has added as much wealth in the last decade as we did in our nation's first 220 years.

That's a considerable amount, says IBD:

  • Fifty-six trillion dollars is roughly four times the size of our economy and nearly a quarter bigger than the size of the entire world economy.
  • The average household in America owns about $487,095 worth of stuff, free and clear.
  • That's a big jump from recent years; since 2001, average household wealth was $373,170; so in five years we've become a third richer.

Why is this important?  Recent readings on the economy show people surprisingly glum about the future despite the fact that unemployment, at just 4.5 percent, is way below its long-term average.  Also, real incomes are rising strongly, inflation remains tame and company profits are at all-time highs.

The fact is, we've never had it so good, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Getting Richer," Investor's Business Daily, March 12, 2007.


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