From an Economic Policy Institute briefing paper called, “The State of Working America’s Wealth” (h/t Matt Yglesias via Twitter):
The destruction of wealth that resulted from the Great Recession was widespread but not uniform. From 2007 to2009, average annualized household declines in wealth were 16% for the richest fifth of Americans and 25% for theremaining four-fifths.• The divvying up of the total wealth pie, even as the pie shrank, was made more uneven due to larger drops in wealthfor those at the bottom. The share of wealth held by the richest fifth of American households increased by 2.2percentage points to 87.2%, while the remaining four-fifths gave up those 2.2 percentage points and held onto just12.8% of all wealth.• The wealthiest 1% of U.S. households had net worth that was 225 times greater than the median or typical household’s net worth in 2009. This is the highest ratio on record.• In 2009, approximately one in four U.S. households had zero or negative net worth, up from 18.6% in 2007. Forblack households the figure was about 40%.• The median net worth of black households was $2,200 in 2009, the lowest ever recorded; the median among whitehouseholds was $97,900.• Even at the 2007 economic peak, half of all U.S. households owned no stocks at all—either directly or indirectlythrough mutual or retirement funds.• Homeownership rates fell from a peak of 69.0% in 2004 to 67.2% in 2009, and house prices fell 32% from 2006through the first quarter of 2009. Prices have since rebounded slightly but were at mid-2003 levels in the thirdquarter of 2010.• Because of the housing bust, home equity as a percent of home value fell from 59.5% in the first quarter of 2006 to36.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009. For the first time on record, the percent of home value that homeowners ownoutright dropped below 50%—meaning that banks now own more of the nation’s housing stock than people do.
So essentially the average black American household lives paycheck to paycheck. In total 1 in 4 American households has zero or negative net worth. This is in the wealthiest country in history. One that has had the largest GDP in the world for almost 135 consecutive years.