Today the Census Bureau released its own survey findings on household wealth, confirming the bad news reported last week by the Federal Reserve Board. Median household net worth in 2010 was $66,740, says the bureau, even lower than the $77,300 reported by the Fed, and down 35 percent since 2005 after adjusting for inflation.
Anyone tempted to dismiss the decline in household wealth as "just" a consequence of the collapse of the housing market, keep in mind that housing is the single most important asset owned by the average household. Excluding home equity, median household net worth is only $15,000, according to the Census Bureau.
It might be possible to dismiss the loss of housing wealth as a temporary aberration, soon to be corrected, if the demographic headwinds (downsizing boomers and struggling younger adults) were not so formidable. A rebound is unlikely for years to come.
Source: Census Bureau, Wealth and Asset Ownership