he 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:
Net worth of the median American family in 2007
Net worth of the median family in 2010
Percentage drop in wealth over that three-year period
Median home equity — the value of a house minus what is owed on the mortgage — in 2007
Median home equity in 2010
Percentage drop of home equity since the start of the recession
Income of the median family in 2007
Median family income in 2010, an 8 percent drop
Median credit card balance in 2007
Median credit card balance in 2010, a 16 percent decline
Median percentage of debt that was education-related in 2007
Median percentage of education-related debt in 2010
Percentage of Americans late on their debt payments in 2007
Percentage late on payments in 2010
Median value of stock-based retirement plan in 2007
Median stock-based retirement plan in 2010, a 7 percent plunge
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Attack of the invasive species
- Why atheism doesn't have the upper hand over religion
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- 14 wonderful words with no English equivalent
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Captain America won over China
- Which states get screwed worst by the Electoral College?
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
Subscribe to the Week