Americans saw their net worth decline by $1.7 trillion in the first quarter – the biggest drop since 2002 – as declines in home values and the stock market ravaged their holdings.
Meanwhile, the amount of equity people have in their homes fell to 46.2%, the lowest level on record.
The net worth of U.S. households fell 3% to $56 trillion at the end of March, according to the Federal Reserve’s flow of funds report, which was released Thursday. The value of real estate assets owned by households and non-profits declined by $305 billion, while financial assets fell by $1.3 trillion, led mainly by a $556 billion drop in stocks and a $400 billion decline in mutual funds.
The first quarter’s decline follows a $530 billion drop in wealth in the fourth quarter of 2007. Until then, net worth had been rising steadily since 2003, climbing nearly 31% over those five years. During the bear market of 2000 through 2002, household’s net worth dropped 6.2%.