There is a chilling report out from the Federal Reserve that the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. That returns American families to the wealth level of 1992.
The biggest hit were the middle class families. The wealthiest families actually saw a slight rise. The median for credit card debt did not materially change, however. Much of this decline is due to the decline in home values which remains the biggest investment for most families. Forty-seven percent of citizens do not pay taxes income taxes and 87 percent of those earn less than $20,000 a year.
These figures are remarkable since they parallel the Great Depression but we have not seen the same degree of displacement or social or political upheaval as a result. There are different theories from better public welfare programs to a new political dynamic with many lower and middle class families supporting either the Tea Party or GOP. It may also be that many families have experienced the decline but continue to hold on to their homes so that the diminishing in wealth does not manifest as sharply in their lives. Whatever the cause, the reduction in wealth has not produced a comparative political backlash that I can see.
Source: Washington Post