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Average Joe still reeling from recession, Fed says

WASHINGTON — The average U.S. household has a long way to go to recover the wealth it lost to the Great Recession, a report by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis concluded Thursday.

The typical household has regained less than half its wealth, the analysis says. This contrasts with a Federal Reserve report released in March that calculated that Americans as a whole had regained 91 percent of losses.

Household wealth plunged $16 trillion from the third quarter of 2007 through the first quarter of 2009. By the final three months of 2012, American households as a group had regained $14.7 trillion.

Yet once those figures are adjusted for inflation and population growth, the average household has recovered only 45 percent of its wealth, the St. Louis Fed concluded.

That suggests consumer spending could remain modest as Americans try to rebuild wealth by saving and paying off debts.

The analysis, written by William Emmons, an economist at the St. Louis Fed, and Ray Boshara, who directs its new Center for Household Financial Stability, noted that the rebound in wealth hasn't been equally distributed. Many households are farther behind than the average.

Nearly two-thirds of the increase in household wealth since 2009 is due to rising stock prices, the authors note. Those gains disproportionately benefit affluent households. For middle- and lower-income households, home values represent the biggest chunk of wealth. Home prices remain 30 percent below peak.

Average Joe still reeling from recession, Fed says 05/30/13 [Last modified: Thursday, May 30, 2013 8:36pm]
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