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The dwindling wealth of the American family: By the numbers
The Great Recession wiped out a huge chunk of the average family's wealth, setting the U.S. back by nearly two decades
 
A boy waves a flag during the annual Memorial Day Parade in New Canaan, Conn., one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S.: According to a new report, the median family income dropped 8 percent from 2007 to 2010.
A boy waves a flag during the annual Memorial Day Parade in New Canaan, Conn., one of the wealthiest communities in the U.S.: According to a new report, the median family income dropped 8 percent from 2007 to 2010.
Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis

The median American family — the exact middle between the wealthiest and the poorest — had the same amount of money in 2010 as it did in 1992, according to the Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Finance, an extensive and detailed look at American wealth undertaken every three years. While the latest data is 18 months old, it underscores the astonishing economic devastation wreaked by the Great Recession, which, beginning in 2007, swept away a chunk of the wealth accumulated since the early 1990s. (The Fed defines "wealth" as income plus assets — like homes, cars, and stocks — minus debts.) Here, a numerical look at the average family's struggles:

$126,400
Net worth of the median American family in 2007

$77,300
Net worth of the median family in 2010

40
Percentage drop in wealth over that three-year period

$95,300
Median home equity — the value of a house minus what is owed on the mortgage — in 2007

$55,000
Median home equity in 2010

42.3
Percentage drop of home equity since the start of the recession

$49,600
Income of the median family in 2007

$45,800
Median family income in 2010, an 8 percent drop

$3,100
Median credit card balance in 2007

$2,600
Median credit card balance in 2010, a 16 percent decline

15.2
Median percentage of debt that was education-related in 2007

19.2
Median percentage of education-related debt in 2010

7
Percentage of Americans late on their debt payments in 2007

11
Percentage late on payments in 2010

$49,600
Median value of stock-based retirement plan in 2007

$44,000
Median stock-based retirement plan in 2010, a 7 percent plunge

Sources: Associated Press, Federal Reserve, The New York TimesThe Washington Post

 

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