Working American Families are struggling in this economic environment. The lack of wealth and income growth prevents these families from buying homes in good neighborhoods with superior educational systems, becoming mobile in pursuit of new opportunities, starting a business, saving for retirement, providing their children with educational opportunities, and paying for the emergency that never occurs at an opportune time.
It is truly shocking how the median family has seen their wealth collapse since the great financial crisis (GFC). As the chart below highlights, the median family’s wealth is 40% lower as of 2016 than it was in 2007 (using 2016’s $s). One of the primary reasons is the changing labor force dynamics where incomes are less stable as hours worked become more volatile.
The top 10% of income earners in 2016 controlled nearly 70% of all the wealth in the U.S., which is up substantially since 1989. Furthermore, the share of families with no or negative wealth has climbed 50% (14.9% of Americans) since the GFC. This disparity is manifesting in many different ways, including stock and home ownership, where the top 10% of earners own 90% of the stock, while home ownership has fallen nationally to only about 62%, which is down from more than 68% before the last recession.
This unfortunate and unacceptable situation will likely continue to impact more and more Americans, who are being asked to fund more of their retirement and healthcare in an environment of lower wage growth and less stable incomes.