American families have yet to recover even half of the household wealth they lost in the recession of 2008-09, the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank said in a study released Friday.
The bank’s analysis aims to show that four years after the official end of the Great Recession, the average U.S. household balance sheet has only recovered 45 percent.
Further, the lingering damage has fallen unevenly across various American demographic groups.
“Our examination of household balance sheets shows that while many Americans lost wealth because of the Great Recession, younger, less-educated and African-American and Hispanic families lost the most,” the authors, Ray Boshara and William Emmons, wrote.
The analysts also found evidence that a family’s vulnerability to the recession rose in proportion to how much debt it had, particularly mortgage debt, before the downturn.
“We also found that these subgroups had both higher-than-average concentrations of their wealth in housing and higher debt-to-asset ratios than less economically vulnerable groups. Thus, the very families most exposed to the economic fallout of a deep recession — fallout that came in the form of job loss or reduced income — possessed the weakest and riskiest balance sheets.”
That vulnerability has emerged most sharply among minority households.
“Historically disadvantaged minority families tended to finance their assets with more debt than did white and Asian families, which amplified the effects of high housing concentrations on net-worth declines during the crisis.”
The loss of wealth has also hit the national economy, the study says, because of loan defaults and reduced spending to cut household debt and rebuild savings.