If you feel like you’re working hard and not getting anywhere financially for it, you may be right. The fact is, Americans are getting poorer. And it’s not just a small group or class of negatively affected Americans that are bearing the brunt of this economic reality. According to The New York Times, it’s 94% percent of us. The sad reality is that 94% of American households are getting poorer.
There is no buttering up the numbers, they’re just ugly. According to an article in The New York Times, in 2003, the inflation adjusted net worth of the average American household was $87,992. Ten years later, in 2013, the inflation adjusted net worth of the average American household was only $56,335. That’s a momentous 36% decline. Simply put, Americans are getting poorer, and if the rate of decline stays constant or accelerates, it’s unnerving to imagine what the inflation adjusted net worth of the average American household will look like in another ten years.
The sad reality is that the assault on the average American’s net worth has been going on for the last fifteen years. For a better look into where the issue began, we’ve got to take a trip back in time to 1999. Market Intelligence Center tells us that Americans’ household income peaked in 1999 at $55,000. That, essentially, was the peak of the empire because after 1999, Americans’ household income has been in decline. Market Intelligence Center goes on to tell us that the decline hasn’t happened evenly. As recently as 2007, Americans’ median income was still more than $54,000. The damage really kicked in during the economic crisis of 2008. The U.S. Census Bureau tells us that Americans’ real median income fell to $50,221 between 2008 and 2009. As of June, 2013, according to another article in The New York Times, it experienced a moderate rebound to $52,100. Even so, Americans’ median net income is more than five percent less than it was in 1999.
To put how much poorer you and every other average American really are into context, let’s use this example. If you purchased an item for $20.00 in 1999, you would need $28.61 to purchase the same item today. That means the value of your money has decreased by roughly 30% since 1999 because of inflation (Reference the U.S. inflation calculator here).
Increasing inflation and decreasing income and net worth amount to a multifaceted assault on almost every American. Well, at least on 94% of us. Here’s where it gets a little more interesting. The New York Times tells us that the net worth of the top four percent of American households has actually increased by a whopping fourteen percent from 2003 through 2013. It gets even better because, as the Inquisitr tells us, it is currently estimated that the top 1 percent of American households own between 35 and 37 percent of all the wealth in the country.
So the next time a highly paid pundit on a major media outlet is telling you that everything is OK and the economy is recovering, that pundit is telling the truth if referencing the top 4 percent of American households. When it comes to the rest of us, the great majority of Americans are getting poorer.