The average US 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 today. The typical household has regained less than half its wealth, the analysis found. 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 billion. Yet once those figures are adjusted for inflation and averaged across the US population, the picture doesn't look so bright: The average household has recovered only 45% of its wealth, the St. Louis Fed concluded.
That suggests that consumer spending could remain modest as many Americans try to rebuild their wealth by saving more and paying off debts. 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 total wealth. And home prices remain about 30% below their peak, even after jumping nearly 11% in the past year. (Read more recession stories.)