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Rep. Alan Grayson Headshot

... And the Poor Get Poorer

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The Federal Reserve just released its Survey of Consumer Finances, the only government survey of wealth in America. The Survey is conducted every three years. This survey, conducted in 2010, is the first one to reflect the effects of the Wall Street Meltdown in 2008.

How does it look? Bad. Really, really bad.

The median wealth of American families (meaning half above and half below) dropped from $126,400 in 2007 all the way down to $77,300 in 2010. That's a 39% slide. It puts the median net worth of American families at its lowest level since 1995, fifteen years earlier.

About 12% of American families have a negative net worth. Meaning that they're broke.

Among Americans with no high school diploma (15 percent of the adult population), median wealth plunged from $34,800 in 2007 to $16,100 in 2010, a 54% drop. That is the lowest level since at least the Fed's 1983 survey, maybe earlier. So three decades of progress have been wiped out.

Among minorities, median wealth plunged from $29,700 to $20,400. That is the lowest level since 1992. White median wealth is now 540% higher than minority median wealth.

The median value of American homes dove from $209,500 in 2007 to $170,000 in 2010. But the median mortgage was almost completely unchanged: $74,700 in 2007, $74,100 in 2010. So debt payments increased from 7% of income to 11% of income.

In 2007, the bottom 25% had a net worth of $14,800 or less. In 2010, the bottom 25% had a net worth of $8,300 or less, a 44% decline.

In 2007, the top 10% had a net worth of $955,600 or more. In 2010, the top 10% had a net worth of $952,500, a decline of less than 1%.

Let me sum it up for you: In the greatest economic crisis that the United States has faced since the Great Depression, the rich barely lost a nickel. But the poor definitely got poorer. And people in the middle were crushed.

If this continues any longer, then we can invite a priest to administer last rites to the American middle class.