The U.S. central bank has concluded American households have recovered less than half the wealth they had before the country's deep recession in 2008 and 2009.
A regional branch of the Federal Reserve (in St. Louis, Missouri) says U.S. families accumulated a net worth of $66 trillion by the end of last year. But it said that amounted to only 45 percent of the total households had amassed in 2007, in the months before the sharpest U.S. downturn since the 1930s.
The Fed said any conclusion the recession's economic damage "largely has been repaired is not justified."
With U.S. stock indexes soaring in recent weeks to all-time highs, some experts concluded the country's households had recouped nearly all of the lost wealth. But the new report says stock-market gains primarily have benefited wealthy families.
It said that young people, the less educated, and black and Hispanic people lost the biggest share of their wealth during the recession. The report said their personal debt and difficulty in rebuilding have played a significant role in the country's sluggish economic recovery.
The U.S. jobless rate has been falling, and is now at 7.5 percent, but that is still high by the country's long-term standard. The country's economy, the world's largest, grew by 2.4 percent in the early months of the year.