Americans Getting Richer

June 7, 2002 ( - US household net worth inched up over the first quarter, as stronger real-estate values cancelled out stock market losses, a report from the Federal Reserve Board shows.

The figure, a gauge of total household assets, such as real estate and pensions, less total liabilities, such as mortgages and student loans, increased by 0.7% to $40.2 trillion, compared with $39.9 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2001.

After peaking at $41.7 trillion in 1999 boosted by stellar stock market returns, household net worth declined in both 2000 and 2001.

According to the report, much of the gain is attributable to the hot housing market – household real estate rose by 1.7% to %12.2 trillion by the close of the quarter
Homeowners’ equity in household real estate edged up by 1.3%, to $6.7 trillion.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the balance sheet, values of corporate equities, excluding mutual funds and pension funds fell by 2.5%, to $5.7 trillion.

In addition, personal savings as a percentage of disposable personal income increased to around 3% over the quarter.

Still, household net worth as a ratio of disposable personal income, slipped to 5.2 times disposable income from 5.4 in 4Q01 and 6.3 in 1999, when rising stock prices gave personal portfolio’s a boost.