The net worth of U.S. households rose 3.2 percent in the third quarter to $123.52 trillion, as stock portfolios and real estate prospered, according to a report from the Federal Reserve.
The report highlights a recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic woes that has benefited Americans unevenly, favoring mostly the wealthiest people in the country as the less fortunate still struggle.
Household debt rose 5.6 percent to $16.4 trillion, the report found, the quickest pace in the last several years.
The increase in net worth has been driven primarily by gains in the stock market. The S&P Index and Dow Jones, respectively, gained 8.5 percent and 7.6 percent respectively in the July to September period, building on larger advances from the second quarter.
The recovery from the pandemic has been described as “K-shaped” by several economists, meaning more affluent Americans are doing better than those without as much wealth, who are in decline because of volatile market conditions changing by the day with the status of coronavirus infections.
“We’ve seen home prices rise, market prices for tradable instruments rise and savings increase because people haven’t been able to spend money on everything from sporting events to weddings,” said Constance Hunter, chief economist at KPMG LLP, according to The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). “But those gains skew to upper income people.”
The disparity between the upper and lower economic classes was visible also in a previous Federal Reserve report, PYMNTS writes, which showed that U.S. household wealth had hit record highs even while the rest of the economy struggled. The report found that the worth of households hit $119 trillion this year, even while debt totaled $59 trillion, comprising household debt, nonfinancial business debt and total government debt.
The report found that household debt rose 0.5 percent in the second quarter while consumer credit shrank at an annual rate of 6.6 percent and mortgage rates rose 3 percent.