The rich are much richer than you and me

By Chris Isidore, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The gap between the rich and the middle class is larger than it has ever been due to the bursting of the housing bubble.

The richest 1% of U.S. households had a net worth 225 times greater than that of the average American household in 2009, according to analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal think tank. That's up from the previous record of 190 times greater, which was set in 2004.

The widening gap came even as wealthy households' average net worth tumbled 27% -- to about $14 million -- between 2007 to 2009. That's the first time that they suffered a decline since the three-year period of 1992 to 1995.

Meanwhile, the average family's net worth plunged 41% -- to just $62,200 -- from 2007 to 2009, according to EPI's calculations.

"The typical person lost more because a bigger percentage of their wealth in 2007 had been the value of their home," said Heidi Shierholz, an economist with EPI.

The poorest U.S. households have had a negative net worth in every reading dating back to 1962, meaning that their debts and other liabilities outweigh their assets. They fell deeper into a hole the last two years, with their net worth falling to negative $27,000 on average, or nearly twice as much as they owed two years earlier.

Net worth is a measure of a family's total assets, including real estate, bank balances, stock holdings and retirement funds, minus all of their liabilities, such as mortgages and other consumer debt.

The EPI estimate uses figures from the Federal Reserve's survey of consumer finances for 2007 estimates, and the Fed's flow of funds report on household wealth for the more recent reading. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed4.08%4.12%
15 yr fixed3.23%3.21%
5/1 ARM3.46%3.30%
30 yr refi4.14%4.12%
15 yr refi3.28%3.21%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 16,804.71 -238.19 -1.40%
Nasdaq 4,422.09 -71.30 -1.59%
S&P 500 1,946.16 -26.13 -1.32%
Treasuries 2.40 -0.10 -4.19%
Data as of 9:09pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 16.82 -0.23 -1.35%
Ford Motor Co 14.59 -0.20 -1.35%
Facebook Inc 76.55 -2.49 -3.15%
Apple Inc 99.18 -1.57 -1.56%
Cisco Systems Inc 25.03 -0.14 -0.56%
Data as of 4:03pm ET

Sections

In the last five years, pumpkin sales have risen 34% as people demand pumpkin in everything from beer to beef jerky. More

Facebook's chief product officer issued an apology to Sister Roma and the drag community on Wednesday for its flawed 'real name' policy. More

New York City launches a comprehensive site for all things related to its digital tech scene, Digital.NYC. More

For these seniors, the best retirement is not to retire. From a 102-year-old Wal-Mart worker to an activist park ranger, these workers have stayed on the job well into their golden years. More

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.