It’s not simply about adding up your assets and debts in the United States. It includes looking at wealth and income from various perspectives, including age, education, race, ethnicity, homeownership, family size, and more across states and regions.
The Survey of Consumer Finance (SCF) has collected data on net worth and its components since 1989, with the Federal Reserve maintaining the record. This project collects data on consumer finance every three years. It provides a picture of the status of wealth in the United States to analyze economic well-being and contentious issues like income inequality over time.
The most recent SCF was conducted in 2019.
Let’s dig a little further into this wealth of net worth information and see what it says.
- The median net worth in the United States is $121,700, up 17.6 % from 2016.
- According to Forbes, the average household’s net worth rose by 2% to $748,800 in 2017.
- Median net worth rose 30% among Black and Hispanic families during this period, while the typical white family still had three to seven times more wealth.
- Median net worth is more than four times greater for college degree holders than those who only received a high school diploma.
- The top ten % of American families possess 76% of all assets, while the bottom 50% own just 1% of all assets.
What Is Net Worth?
A person’s or family’s net worth is the difference between what they have and what they owe.
To calculate net worth for yourself or your family, first add up all your assets, such as cash accounts, investments, and property. Then total all your debts, such as credit card debt and outstanding loans. Your net worth is the difference between your total assets minus your total liabilities.
On the other hand, your net worth is a more accurate predictor of wealth than your income because it reflects what you do with your money: spend, save, and invest it as well as the extent to which you have access to additional financial resources.
Over time, keeping track of your net worth might help you assess your financial health and see whether your current money habits are consistent with your financial objectives.
The Number of Millionaires and Billionaires in The U.S.
- How many millionaires are there in the United States? According to Credit Suisse’s Global Wealth Report, as of the end of 2020, there were 21,951,000 U.S. millionaires. This number is expected to rise by 28% to 28,055,000 by 2025.
- What is the current number of billionaires in the United States? According to Forbes, U.S. billionaires rose from 614 to 724 between 2020 and 2021.
- How many Black billionaires are there in the United States? There are seven. In the United States, less than 1% of all billionaires are Black.
- How many female billionaires are there in the United States? There are 87 American women billionaires or 12 % of all wealthy individuals.
Who is a high-net-worth individual, and how much does it cost? According to Credit Suisse, a high net worth individual (HNWI) is someone with a net worth of $1 million to $50 million. The very wealthy — also known as ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) — have $50 million or more.
Net Worth Statistics
Median and average net worth by age in the U.S.
The typical American family’s net worth tends to increase with time. A typical American household will see its net worth rise during their peak earning years and pay down debt, slow the accumulation rate as they enter retirement, and then draw on their savings accounts in their later years.
Net worth and assets:
- Between 2016 and 2019, the median and average net worth of 35-44 increased by 43% and 42%, respectively.
- The median net worth for those aged 35 to 44 was $91,300 in 2010, about 16% lower than the pre-Recession means of $109,430. However, the average American net worth has increased 8.6 % above its pre- Recession figure, suggesting a growing wealth gap.
- The 35-44 age group’s rise in net worth from 2016 is primarily based on gains in net home equity. The median home value for this demographic in 2019 is $250,000, which is just approaching the pre-Recession median home value high of $253,050 more than 10 years later.
- Homeownership participation for persons 35-44 years old — 61.4% in 2019 — is still far below the Pre-Recession peak of 68.3% in 2004.
- The generational wealth gap remains. Older families (65 to 74 years old) have 19 times the net worth of younger families (under 35 years old) in 2019. In comparison, this wealth disparity was a factor of 12 in 2016 and a factor of 7 in 1989.
- Working-age families are increasingly dependent on student loans, which contribute to a rising debt-to-income ratio among these individuals.
- Student loans are becoming increasingly popular, with over 41% of households under 35 holding student debt. The average (mean) amount owed was around $41,000.
- For the 35-44 age group, over 33.7% had outstanding student loans with an average of $42,000 still owing.
- For those 45-54, less than a fourth (23.3%) had a student loan, even though the average outstanding balance was still close to the younger age groups at $39,600.
- As people grow older, their student loans become more common. The most recent data show that 12.2% of those aged 55 to 64 have educational debt, with a cumulative $37,600 in outstanding obligations.
Median And Average Net Worth by Education Level in The U.S.
Net worth and assets:
- With family wealth, those with a college degree have almost three and a half times those with some education, nearly four times that of individuals with a high school diploma, and more than 15 times the group without a high school diploma.
- Since 1989, the median net worth of individuals without a high school diploma has been declining. The median net worth for people without a high school diploma in 1989 was $48,090, which fell to $24,270 in 2016.
- 27.9% of those with a bachelor’s degree or higher had student loans with an average balance of $55,880.
- The total %age of those with less than a bachelor’s degree who hold student loans is higher at 37.2%. Instead, the average balance is more than double that of individuals with bachelor’s degrees or professional degrees ($36,820).
- According to the report, the majority of people who leave before completing an associate degree are behind on their student loan payments.
Median Net Worth by Marital Status in The U.S.
Net worth and assets:
- The proportion of individuals between the ages of 25 and 34 who are married has decreased from 57% in 1989 to 37% in 2016 (SCF 2016). They continue to have a significant share of home equity, though.
- Single women under 35 have 13.0 % of the median net worth, whereas their single male counterparts have nearly double that amount (27.4%). Women aged 35 to 54 have roughly a third of what single guys in the same age group have (13,730 vs. 39,260).
- By age 55 to 64, the net worth gap between single males and females narrows, with women having 83% of the net worth men have. Single women have 90% of the median net wealth of single males at age 65 and older, which the U.S. Census Bureau does not consider statistically significant.
- Student loans are the most common debt for people aged 25 to 34 and generate the most tension.
- Median student loan debt for married or living with a romantic partner student was $10,400 and $7,900. Single young adults owed, on average, $20,000.
Median And Average Net Worth by Family Structure
Net worth and assets:
- Researchers have observed net worth impacts children’s well-being more than income levels and distribution in family research.
- Homeownership contributes to family wealth preservation and growth, up to one and a half times of non-ownership families, while managing the extra expenditures youngsters create in household finances.
- In 2019, the homeownership rate for couples with children was 75.7%, whereas it was 50.4 % for individuals without youngsters.
- According to the USDA, raising a kid in the United States costs an average of $233,610 throughout their childhood (from birth to age 17). housing and 18% of the eye-opening cost of raising a kid goes to food.
- In 2017, the typical American household had 1.9 children.
- On average, single parents spend $443,859 raising a child. That is just under the $457,000 gap in median household wealth between couples with and without children in the chart above.
Median And Average Net Worth by Homeownership Status in The U.S.
The value of the homeowner’s home is the second-largest contributor to a family’s net worth in the United States. However, if too much of a household’s wealth is invested in its primary residence, it may be susceptible to housing market downturns.
The typical life cycle of wealth applies, with house ownership rates climbing rapidly between young families and those approaching middle age.
- The net worth of US homeowners across all age categories increased by a modest 3.56% between 2016 and 2019.
- The median home price increased 14% among age groups during that period, from $225,000 to $262,200. The median property value rose 14%, while the median value of home-secured debt (mortgages, home equity loans, etc.) grew by 14%.
- Among white families, 46% own their homes, but for Black families in the same age group, just 17% do.
- This significant disparity between white and Black families that are just getting their feet on the property ladder might be caused by various factors, including varying degrees of parental wealth among African-Americans. They are far less likely to get financial aid from their parents to meet down payment requirements.
Net Worth by U.S. Region
- The variance in net worth between areas is mainly due to various median home equity rates. For example, the median net home equity for a survey participant in the South was $100,000, whereas it was $200,000 for respondents in the West.
- Region-to-region income variances also contribute to net worth disparities. For example, the median income in the West is 20% greater than that in the South.
Net Worth by Race
Net worth and assets:
- Between 2016 and 2019, the median net worth for Black families increased from $18,240 to $24,100. This implies more than 30%, yet it is still below the 2007 pre-recession median net worth of $25,920.
- The typical net worth of a Black family decreased by 3%, from $146,830 in 2016 to $142,330 in 2019.
- The median net worth of Hispanic families increased by 64% in 2019, rising to $36,050 from $22.040 in 2016, the highest level since 1989. Since the SCF began in 1989, Hispanic families have had the highest median net worth.
- White families have a median net worth of $532,000, almost 7 times the amount for Black families ($130,000) and 3.5 times that of Hispanic families ($200,000). This was nearly the same wealth gap between white and black families as before the Great Recession (in 2007), when white households’ median net worth was about 7 times that of black and Latino households.
- For the fourth quarter of 2019, total wealth in the United States was $111.04 trillion. White families held $93.55 trillion (84.2 %), Black families held $4.43 trillion (3.99 %), and Hispanic families held $2.58 trillion (2.32 %). However, 14% of the population identified as Black in 2019, and Hispanics made up 18%.
- If Black and Hispanic wealth were proportionate to their representation in the population, Black families would have a net worth of $15.55 trillion. In contrast, Hispanic families would have a net worth of $19.99 trillion. For Black families, that’s a difference of $11.12 trillion in terms of total wealth; for Hispanics, it’s a difference of $17.41 trillion.
- Americans age 55 and up own 80% of the country’s net worth, with the remaining 20% belonging to people in their twenties and thirties.
Net Worth and Student Loans
The obviousness with which student loan debt is displayed adds to the issue’s emotional intensity. Because an examination of income and liabilities is necessary to calculate net worth, the burden of student loan debt becomes more apparent. The following are some facts revealed by looking at net worth:
- According to a recently released report from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS), the median student loan debt rose by 11.89 % to $22,000 for people under the age of 35 in 2017, according to a recently released report from The Institute for College Access and Success (TICAS). Median student loan debt increased by 18.38% to $41,410 overall.
- When the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations asked millennial renters (age range 23 to 38 in 2019, according to the Pew Research Center) what was preventing them from buying a house, 55.7 % said “too much debt/not saved enough,” with the majority of respondents pointing to student loan debt.
- The researchers discovered that a borrower’s experience with relentless student loan debt decreased portfolio risk-taking and, as a consequence, reduced early investment in high-return “risky investments” (defined as equities, stock mutual funds, mixed mutual funds, corporate bonds, etc.). Each quartile increase of student debt as a proportion of financial assets reduces the proportion of these “risky” asset classes in the overall mix of financial assets by 20%.
How Net Worth Is Distributed
To better comprehend how money is accumulated, in what amounts, and by whom, wealth distribution in America is frequently divided into equal portions or percentiles. The tables below use quintiles and quartiles to analyze the data from the 2019 SCF.
A quintile is a measure in which data is divided into five distinct yet equivalent parts. This quintile chart is based on income. So, if your income puts you in the 65th percentile, 65% of people would make less than you, and 35% would make more than you. You fall into the fourth quintile group represented by “80” in the chart below.
The second chart, as the name implies, plots data in quartiles. The fourth quartile is split into two pieces to separate the top 10% of the population (or decile). Quartiles are used to break down a distribution into four parts, representing 25% of the database’s population. With quintiles, count from top to bottom, starting with the first quartile, which has the lowest values.