Household net worth is the concept that the U.S. Census Bureau describes in their report of Household Net Worth and Assets. The most recent version of this report was issued in April 2008 and is located here:
From page 1:
“This report compares the levels of wealth and asset ownership, such as home equity, savings accounts, certificates of deposit, stocks and mutual funds, and vehicle ownership, by various socioeconomic factors, including monthly household income, in late 1999/early 2000 and late 2002.”
A couple of important definitions:
Household. A household consists of all people who occupy a housing unit.
Net worth. The household net worth estimates shown in this report are based on the sum of the market value of assets owned by every member of the household minus liabilities (secured or unsecured) owed by household members.
Median net worth.The median net worth is the amount that divides households into two equal groups, one having net worth less than that amount and theother having net worth above that amount.
Here we have a graph with median net worth data since 1984 (let’s ignore the GDP data for now):
Median household net worth remained statistically unchanged from 2000 at $58,988 to 2002 at $58,905. This means that 1/2 of U.S. households have a net worth lower than $58,905, and 1/2 are higher.
So does this chart make you feel better or worse about your personal situation? It makes me feel better because we are above the median household net worth, so I guess we could be doing worse. But it always feels like we should be doing better!
Never satisfied? Human nature? Both I suppose…