Average incomes after adjusting for inflation actually fell from 2001 to 2004, and the growth in net worth was the weakest in a decade, the Federal Reserve reported Thursday.
Top of Form
Average family incomes, after adjusting for inflation, fell to $70,700 in 2004, a drop of 2.3 percent when compared with 2001. That was the weakest showing since a decline of 11.3 percent from 1989 to 1992, a period that also covered a recession.
The average incomes had soared by 17.3 percent in the 1998-2001 period and 12.3 percent from 1995 to 1998 as the country enjoyed the longest economic expansion in history.
The median family income, the point where half the families made more and half made less, rose a tiny 1.6 percent to $43,200 in 2004 compared with 2001.
The median family net worth, the point where half the families owned more and half owned less, stood at $93,100 in 2004, a rise of 1.5 percent after adjusting for inflation from 2001.
The report showed that the slowdown in the accumulation of net worth would have been even more sizable except for the fact that homeowners have enjoyed big gains in the value of their homes in recent years.
The gap between the very wealthy and other income groups widened during the period.
The top 10 percent of households saw their net worth rise by 6.1 percent to an average of $3.11 million while the bottom 25 percent suffered a decline from a net worth in which their assets equaled their liabilities in 2001 to owing $1,400 more than their total assets in 2004.
"This is the continuing story of the rich getting richer," said David Wyss, chief economist at Standard & Poor's in New York. "Clearly, the gains in wealth are going to the top end."
So times are not so great for the average family huh? Then Governor Doyle tries to offer us some relief from record high heating bills and the Republican controlled state legislature stalls like we are asking them to sacrifice their first born? Those are some "family values" you have, when you clearly don't value the "average family."