January 26, 2001

The median net worth of U.S. households stood at $40,200 in 1995, not
statistically different from 1993, according to results of a survey released by the Commerce Department's Census Bureau.

Household net worth is defined as the value of assets, minus debts. Half of all households had net worth above the median figure and half were below. Included in net worth were interest-earning assets, checking accounts, stocks and mutual fund shares, real estate, motor vehicles, value of business or profession and mortgages held by sellers.

The data should not be confused with Census 2000 results, which will be released over the next three years.

"The apparent stability of the household wealth resulted from offsetting changes in the median household values of specific asset types," said Census Bureau analyst Thomas Palumbo in summarizing the report, Household Net Worth
and Asset Ownership: 1995.

For example, asset holdings in stocks, rental property, vehicle equity and retirement accounts (IRA and Keogh) experienced significant increases between 1993 and 1995. Decreases occurred in the median household values of interest-earning assets held at financial institutions and U.S. Savings Bonds.

Median home equity the largest part of household net worth was $50,000 in 1995, not statistically different from the 1993 value of $49,156, adjusted for inflation in 1995 dollars.

In 1995, median net worth holdings for married-couple householders ($64,694) and female householders ($14,949) were not statistically different from 1993. The median net worth for male householders was $16,346, up from $14,219 in 1993.

Other highlights:

In 1995, the net worth for households with a White householder was $49,030; for households with an African American householder, it was $7,073; and for those with a Hispanic householder, it was $7,255. Hispanics may be of any race.

-- The median net worth of households generally increased with the age of the householder, rising from $7,428 for those under 35 to $92,399 for householders age 65 and older.

-- After home equity, interest-earning assets at financial institutions made up the largest share of net worth, although this share decreased slightly from 11.4 percent in 1993 to 9.6 percent in 1995. The median value of household holdings in these assets was $2,537 in 1995.

-- The percentage of household net worth held in IRA and Keogh accounts jumped from 6.7 percent in 1993 (median value of $13,677 in 1995 dollars) to 8.3 percent in 1995 ($15,000).

-- The real median value of stock and mutual funds held by households increased from $7,331 in 1993 to $9,000 in 1995, although the ownership rate of these assets held steady at around 21 percent.

-- Vehicles made up a higher proportion of households' overall net worth in 1995 than in 1993: 8.3 percent compared with 6.4 percent. The real median value of holdings in vehicles grew from $5,414 in 1993 to $6,675 in 1995.

The data are from a panel of the Survey of Income and Program Participation first interviewed in 1993. As in all surveys, the data are subject to sampling variability and other sources of error.

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