This has been the weakest recovery ever, but it nevertheless has managed to make the U.S. richer than ever before on a nominal, real and per capita basis.
Data released today by the Federal Reserve show that the net worth of U.S. households increased by a staggering $9.8 trillion last year, or by almost 14%. Household net worth is now almost $12 trillion higher than it was before the Great Recession hit. The gains in recent years have come from increased holdings of financial assets (mainly equities, bonds, and savings deposits, which have grown by a total of $21 trillion from their 2009 lows), rising real estate values (up $3.9 trillion in just the past two years), and less debt (down $800 billion from pre-recession highs).
Even after taking into consideration inflation, household net worth has reached a new post-recession high of $80.7 trillion. As the chart above shows, this is very much in line with its 3.7% per year long-term trend growth.
Even after taking into consideration inflation as well as the growth of the population, per capita net worth has reached a new post-recession high of almost $255,000. This figure has been growing by about 2.4% per year for over 60 years. The growth of real per capita net worth hasn't been as smooth in the past several decades as it was in the go-go 50s and 60s, but it has kept up with long-term trends.
Yes, things could be better, but they aren't nearly as bad as you might have been led to believe. The U.S. economy is making a comeback that is fairly impressive.