The Real State of American Wealth

Over the last ten years, have you really become more wealthy? We hope the answer is yes… one of our many credos is to protect and enhance your wealth, as small or large as it may be.

But for the average family, the answer is no, says a Census Bureau study released this week.

From 2007-2008, the most up-to-date data the government has, the median family income fell almost $2,000, to $50,300. That wipes out all gains made over the last three years. Factor in inflation, and the typical family is actually making less now then they were in 1998.

So let us gripe for bit: We all spend so much time poking at things like our GDP – reporting changes every quarter and spending millions upon millions guessing where it will be next month, next year, etc. Yet there’s only one gauge of how wealthily we as a nation are actually growing… and we leave it to the Census Bureau to report once a year with a nine-month lag time. Which matters to you more: If you are more financially sound now than you were last quarter, or if the U.S. gross domestic product shrank 2.1% or 2.3%?

Poverty in the U.S. has risen to its highest level in 11 years – that’s the more popular headline from the Census report. They released the annual poverty study this week, which was oddly delayed, as we mentioned back in August, because the data were “not optimal.”

At any rate, 13.2% of Americas lived in poverty in 2008, up almost full percentage point from 2007. That’s the highest rate since 1997 and the data that’s captured most headlines this week. And even though you’re likely shaking in suspense over next year’s number – SPOILER ALERT – we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

National Poverty Level

What exactly is “poverty” to the U.S. government? The equivalent of a family of four living on an annual budget of $22,025 or less. Rest assured that if you’re stuck raising a family on 30k a year, you’ll be just fine.

The Daily Reckoning