Americans’ net worth surged at a historic pace from 2019 to 2022, a reflection of the pandemic era’s tremendous economic swings and the wealth generated from homeownership and financial assets, according to Federal Reserve data released Wednesday.
Real median net worth swelled by 37% in 2022 from the pre-pandemic 2019, according to the Fed’s latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a triennial survey that’s been conducted since 1989 to comprehensively measure income, net worth, credit use, debt and other financial outcomes for American families.
Although backwards-looking, the Fed report details the financial foundation behind the continued resilience that’s fueled US economic growth and jettisoned recession predictions.
However, the latest iteration of the survey also showed that income inequality widened and housing became increasingly unaffordable during this most recent three-year period, reinforcing previously released economic data and Americans’ lived experiences.
Still, the survey allowed Fed researchers to delve deeper into the finances of racial and ethnic groups — including breaking out data specific to Asian Americans for the first time — and into families’ pandemic experiences.
The 37% rise in net worth, which was more than double the next-largest upswing on record, was largely fueled by asset growth — specifically home values and stock market gains, Fed researchers said.
From 2019 to 2022, the homeownership rate increased to 66.1% from 64.9% three years earlier; however, median net housing values (home value minus home-secured debt) mushroomed by 45%. Three years earlier, at the tail end of the largest economic expansion in US history, net housing values increased 13%.
The recent boom in home values was experienced across all income levels, but it also far surpassed the financial gains made, resulting in housing affordability falling to historic lows.
The median home was worth more than 4.6 times the median family income, according to the report.
This story is developing and will be updated.