Study: Wealth Gap Widened in Past Decade

August 21, 2014
Associated Press 
America's wealthy are getting wealthier; but the poor are getting poorer, according to the Census Bureau. The finding is based on net worth including stocks, bank accounts, home values, and retirement accounts. It also considered debts such as mortgages, vehicle loans, credit cards, and student loans.

The report calculates that median net worth for the richest U.S. households rose 11 percent from 2000 to 2011, to $630,754; and net worth for the second-highest 20 percent also increased. For the majority of Americans, however, wealth declined; and the median household net worth for the country as a whole fell by about 7 percent to $68,828.

Some Americans regained their wealth after the recession, thanks to a stock market rally and home price appreciation. The bottom 20 percent, however, owed more than before and were worse off in 2011 than in 2000. In 2011, the median net worth of the poorest Americans was negative $6,029, compared with negative $905 a decade earlier.

The data also showed disparity between races and ages, with the median net worth for whites rising between 2000 and 2011 but falling for blacks and Hispanics. Median worth fell for Americans under 55 years old but increased for people 65 and older.

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