Matt Yglesias points us to the latest Federal Reserve calculations of net worth, and as usual, we can say that the post-Reagan era has been a great time to be rich in America. Here’s the net worth of the top 1 percent:
That’s an increase of more than 4 percent per year above and beyond inflation. The upper middle class has done OK during the same period, increasing its net worth by about 2 percent per year.
And the bottom 50 percent? Their net worth has declined. The basic story is that they didn’t have much to begin with and they lost it all during the housing bust. Literally, they lost it all: their collective net worth hit zero. They’ve been building their net worth back since then, but they still haven’t reached the level they were at in 1990, let alone surpassed it.
And the other income groups? They all lost a bit during the housing bust but made it back within three years. They’ve been building ever since, and at such a fast rate that the recession is now just a blip in the rear-view mirror.