How Wealthy Are You?
Have you ever wondered how you stack up financially against other Americans? The Federal Reserve has just completed the 2022 survey of consumer finances (SCF) that it has been carrying out every three years since 1989. It provides a ton of comprehensive data covering practically anything you’d want to know about the financial standing of U.S. households. Net worth, part of the myriad data collected through the SCF, is considered to be one of the most accurate measures of family wealth. In case you are not familiar with this metric, net worth is simply the total value of assets owned minus any liabilities or debt. Assets include all real estate (primary home plus any rental properties), total investment accounts (bank, retirement, college savings, health savings, brokerage, etc.), annuities and cash value life insurance, and vehicles. Liabilities comprise credit card balances, installment loans (such as personal, student, and auto), mortgages, and home equity lines of credit.
From the survey the average net worth across all U.S. households is estimated to be $1.06 million. Where do you fit in? Finance and investing website DQYDJ.com has broken down the SCF net worth data into percentiles. If your net worth is greater than $13.7 million, congratulations! You are among the top 1%! If it is greater than $3.8 million you are a top 5% householder. Those of you with a $1.9 million net worth are in the top 10%, while $892 thousand puts you into the top 20% bracket.
However, the median net worth is only $192,084. That means half of all households in the U.S. have a net worth below that. In fact, households in the bottom 7% have negative net worth (i.e. hold more debt than assets), a very difficult situation in which to find yourself. The fact that household median net worth is so much lower than average net wealth serves to illustrate the degree of wealth disparity that still exists in our society today (see https://www.cognizantwealth.com/2021/11/12/how-big-has-the-us-wealth-disparity-become/). But the news is not all bad for the less wealthy among us. Over the three years since 2019 those in the 8th through 10th percentiles managed to erase all the debt they previously carried, and those in percentiles 11 through 35 improved their net worth by more than 50%, a greater return than any of the higher-bracket households.
Other interesting data that can be found in the SCF:
- Stock ownership showed the greatest change on record, from 15% of families in 2019 to 21% in 2022. Mutual fund ownership also increased to 11.5%.
- Home ownership increased to 66.1% in 2022 but remains below the 69% peak reached in 2004. Mortgage debt, held by about two-thirds of homeowners, remained relatively stable at about $212K on average, suggesting that the surge in the market value of homes over the past three years has translated into significant housing wealth gains for homeowners.
- Nearly half of all Americans hold credit card debt (average $6,100) while 22% are burdened with an average of $46K of student debt. Considering that over the past three years we lived through the worst global pandemic in over a century, the debt numbers could be viewed as not as bad as feared.
If you’re interested in digging into the details about the latest results, go to https://www.federalreserve.gov/econres/scfindex.htm or https://dqydj.com/average-median-top-net-worth-percentiles/.