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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

December 9, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Household wealth is up, with a big asterisk

fredgraph

The graph above is a rough estimate of household wealth, and the latest data just released show that overall Americans continue to dig out of the losses caused by the Great Recession. One caveat: Adjusted for inflation, net worth is about 1.4 percent below its peak.

The third-quarter increase was 2.6 percent compared with the same quarter in 2012, bringing household wealth to $77.3 trillion. So much for the austerian hysteria that “we’re broke!”

The data also require a big asterisk: This is the wealth of everybody, Bill Gates, the minimum-wage person behind the counter at McDonald’s. Wealthier Americans have benefited from a huge rally on the stock market, along with other trading gains. These have been especially beneficial for those who make their living from investments.

Those who depend on wages are still struggling, with the average household making less than it did in 1989.

Another Monday metric: November retail hiring of 471,000 is down 4.7 percent from last year, according to the outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Even so, it is the second-highest gain for the industry on record (the best showing was 2012).  This tells us as much about the changing composition of job opportunities — three job seekers for every opening — as it does about what is happening in retail.

And Don’t Miss: By George, Britain’s austerity experiment didn’t work | The New Yorker

Today’s Econ Haiku:

A jet at our heads

We’ll all shell out the freebies

So much for state rights

0 Comments | More in Income/living standards

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