The Pandemic’s Net Worth Windfall

By: Anneken Tappe · October 20, 2023 · Reading Time: 2 minutes

Net Worth Newsflash

The pandemic was an unprecedented time for the world, a difficult period for many American households. For others, there was a silver lining.

In the Federal Reserve’s latest triennial Survey of Consumer Finances, the central bank noted a substantial pandemic-era upswing in the net worth of the typical U.S. family. Here’s the stat: The median net worth surged to $192,900, growing an inflation-adjusted 37% between 2019 and 2022.

A combination of rising home values, a buoyant stock market, and government stimulus played pivotal roles in propelling this upward trend.

Past and Present Prosperity

This jump in net worth is remarkable for both its magnitude and historical significance.

It was the most significant percentage jump since the inception of the Federal Reserve’s modern survey in 1989. The next highest growth on record was a rise of 18% between 2004 and 2007, just before the financial crisis, and the Great Recession hit.

Wealth Winners

While the Fed report shows that most family types saw an increase in their net worth, the distribution was far from equal. The assets that primarily contributed to the growth were homes and stocks. So households who don’t own homes or investments, including in the lower income brackets, were locked out of the wealth rally.

Moreover, while there was a slight narrowing of the racial wealth gap, the typical white family still has a substantially higher net worth compared to Black and Hispanic households.

So, while the net worth growth is impressive, disparities, and challenges persist throughout our economy.

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