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New America Experts Available to Discuss Plunge in Americans’ Wealth

Asset Building Program Focuses on Policies to Develop Wealth for All Americans
Published:   June 12, 2012

The New America Foundation’s Asset Building Program has experts available today to discuss the release of new data showing the recession wiped out two decades of wealth gains for American families.

The Survey of Consumer Finances is a triennial survey that takes a sophisticated and rigorous view of the state of American households. The Survey of Consumer Finances is critical because it provides a comprehensive assessment of  wealth across the entire population. While income can fluctuate wildly for many families, appraising wealth provides a more complete look at families’ financial security and their ability to manage hardship in the short- and long-term and advance up the economic ladder.

The Federal Reserve said the median net worth of families plunged by 39 percent in just three years, from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010. This is largely reflective of a massive loss of value in homes owned. However, other forms of debt show the complexity of the household balance sheet. Households appear to be paying off their credit card debt slowly and working to dig out from under large amounts of debt.  

“The report confirms much of what we already knew — the recession was deep and devastating for many Americans, though the middle-class and the poor took enormous hits,” said Reid Cramer, director of the Asset Building Program at the New America Foundation. “Minorities were particularly hard hit, as much of their wealth was linked to owning their homes. While the damage is shocking, it isn’t surprising. What is surprising is that lawmakers in Washington, DC have done little to shore up the pathways to financial security that were hit so hard in the recession. Much more can be done to make sure that American families get back on their feet and develop a more sustainable financial future.”

To interview Reid Cramer or other experts from the New America Foundation about this new report and policy proposals to improve the net worth of American families, please contact Clara Hogan at 202-596-3368 or hogan@newamerica.net.

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