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Household wealth hits new high

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Monday, March 10, 2014
Posted: 6 am ET

Rising values in equities, bank deposits and real estate hiked U.S. household net worth by $9.8 trillion in 2013 to a new high of $80.7 trillion.

A soaring stock market contributed to a new high in household net worth.

A soaring stock market contributed to a new high in household net worth.

The Federal Reserve reports that household wealth increased by 14 percent last year over 2012, mostly due to a soaring bull stock market, followed by steady gains in real estate values.

At the other end of the balance sheet, growth in household debt slowed, from 3 percent in the third quarter to 0.4 percent in the fourth quarter. For all of 2013, household debt grew 0.9 percent, compared with 0.2 percent growth in 2012.

Widening income gap

Federal income data from 1992 to 2012 show an increasing gap between rich and poor as measured by income. Coupled with the Federal Reserve report, it appears the rich are continuing to make gains through stock market investments and property ownership, while incomes continue to lag.

A number of factors could impact economic growth going forward, with the Federal Reserve's position on interest rates a top concern for economists. At the last meeting, the Fed indicated it will keep benchmark interest rates near zero until the employment outlook improves further.

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