Fed Survey: Americans' Financial Well-Being Improved in Mid-2010s

Fed Survey: Americans' Financial Well-Being Improved in Mid-2010s”

USA families' wealth and incomes rose across the board as the economic recovery continued in recent years, a shift after they stagnated for all but the most well-off in the aftermath of the recession, the Federal Reserve reported Wednesday. The income shares of the bottom 90% fell to 49.7% in 2016.

However, "The distribution of income and wealth has grown increasingly unequal in recent years", according to the survey, which queried almost 6,300 Americans. Families ranked in the top tenth of net worth have enjoyed a sizable gain since 2007: a $132,100 rise in net worth to reach nearly $1.2 million.

In the previous survey, conducted 2010 to 2013, median income fell 5% while median wealth fell 2%.

The Federal Reserve's Surveys of Consumer Finance shows that Americans throughout the income and wealth ladder posted gains between 2013 and 2016. The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 47.3% from January 2013 to December 2016, while the S&P 500 rose 53.1%.

The survey's results revealed sharp disparities by race and education.

The top one percent of earners now account for nearly a quarter of all USA income at 23.8 percent, almost as much as the next nine percent.

Despite that improvement, more educated families continued to have higher incomes and wealth overall.

The median net worth of white households grew 17 percent to $171,000 in the latest three years.

The findings come as President Donald Trump unveils plans for broad-based tax cuts, which opposition Democrats say would unduly benefit the richest Americans, widening the gap.

But within that distribution, median and mean incomes were rising across the spectrum, and family net worth increased as a broader set of families started setting aside money for retirement and benefiting from stock market gains of around 9 percent annually during the period.

There were stronger gains also for nonwhite and Hispanic families.

And even as Black and Hispanic families reported large financial gains, the median wealth for White families was still 10 times that for blacks and around eight times that for Latinos.

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