Fed: Recession shrank U.S. wealth to 1992 levels in 2010

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WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Great Recession shrank Americans' wealth so much that in 2010 median family net worth was no more than it had been in 1992 after adjusting for inflation, the Federal Reserve reported Monday.

Median net worth declined from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010, a Fed survey of family finances found. The median marks the point where half had more and half had less. The recession officially began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009.

Net worth is the value of assets such as homes, bank accounts and stocks, minus debts like mortgages and credit cards

The Fed's findings are in its latest Survey of Consumer Finances, a comprehensive review of household finances that the Fed has done every three years dating to 1989.

The Fed's survey of consumer finances contains information only through 2010. A separate survey the Fed released last week showed that total family net worth climbed 4.7 percent in the January-March quarter to $62.9 trillion, about 28 percent above its recession low. The increase was fueled by stock market gains.

Those gains put net worth about 5 percent below its pre-recession peak of $66 trillion. But since the first quarter ended, lower stock prices have eroded some household wealth.

The latest Survey of Consumer Finances showed that much of the drop in net worth from 2007 to 2010 reflected the collapse of the housing market, which drove down home values.

Among families that owned homes, the Fed survey found that their median home equity declined from $95,300 in 2007 to $55,000 in 2010, a drop of 42.3 percent. Home equity is the home's value minus how much is owed on the mortgage.