Fed: Household wealth down about 20%

Newly hired census worker Sierra Carter of Baltimore, Md. stands at an information table at the official opening of the East Baltimore Census Office

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: The Fed came out with a survey this week about how much families bring in here in the U.S. And about how Americans make less and own less than they did before the financial crisis. So what does that survey really tell us?

Jill Schlesinger is editor at large for CBS/MoneyWatch and she's with us live from New York as she is every Friday. Good morning.


CHIOTAKIS: So break this survey down for us.

SCHLESINGER: Well, everybody lost in this survey, but those at the bottom lost less when it comes to income. While those at the top saw more dramatic losses in their income levels. So not spread evenly. The rich did worse.

CHIOTAKIS: The more money you have, the most money you lost. All right, everyone spends money Jill. Does this mean people are spending money differently?

SCHLESINGER: Well, now you might think that we would spend differently because of those results, but people at the bottom definitely pulled back more, they were replenishing their savings and paying down debt. But here's the big surprise. The wealthy kicked up their spending, especially on those nice luxury items. So they did not let their income levels deter them.

CHIOTAKIS: So bottom line Jill, what do these numbers say about the economic recovery going forward?

SCHLESINGER: Well, you know we always hear this statistic that consumers make up 70 percent of the economy. That's actually important because if we don't see more people spending robustly, we continue to have this slow growth economy. And don't forget. A slow growth economy means fewer jobs created at a quick enough pace. That's what we're stuck with right now.

CHIOTAKIS: All right, Jill Schlesinger at CBS/MoneyWatch in New York, Jill thank you.

SCHLESINGER: Great to be with you.

CHIOTAKIS: Have a great weekend.

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Linda H
I am close to the top, a successful entrepreneur who lives quite comfortably, thank you. I worked for 20 years building up a company (3 years in the "entrepreneural poor" class) and sold the company to a mega company who tossed it into the dumpster within a year.
However, I have something missing in many of the rich - empathy for others.
When we sold our company, 20% of the proceeds was divided up among the employees according to salary and length of service.
I'm now an educator helping people try to find the few good jobs that are left.
I do have a lot of disdain for those who grad it all and deny the existence of others' needs.

This was a very poor report. You should assume you have an informed listener and provide context and meaningful info. For instance, to say "those at the bottom lost less" This is contrary to reports we have been hearing, so how is this measured? Real dollars, percentage of income, percentage of assets, or...? Because when you follow up by stating that the lower income people pulled back and the rich spent money on luxury items, you contradict the perceived meaning of the previous statement. Obviously those greater financial losses weren't perceived by the rich as a threat or they wouldn't have spent so much on luxury items. Where's the context? Where's the real analysis and insight? Also we keep hearing that consumers make up 70% of the economy. And I thought well finally someone will explain what this means! But no, it was just restated and as a good thing. What I've read indicates that there are many components to that 70% that the average listener would be surprised to hear are considered consumer spending. The components of what are included are misleading as this sounds like discretionary spending by US residents. See http://seekingalpha.com/article/207654-no-consumer-spending-is-not-70-of... Also there are questions as to whether it's 60 or 70%. If Marketplace isn't doing this reporting, who is!?

Judging from the comments of JH we can only assume he feels he's at the bottom of the economic pile ... wonder if he'd feel the same if he were rich and had worked hard and sacrificed to get there (YES ... some people DO accumulate their own wealth ... not all are trust fund babies). He'd soon grow weary of people putting their hands in his pockets under the guise of making the world of level playing field.

The American middle-class has suffered economic decline for the last 25 years, at least. Now, to add insult to injury, federal and state educational funds are being slashed, and union busting has become the national sport.

Oh, the poor rich people!
I wonder if those at the top will be happy with the world they are creating? Rich at the top living in luxury inside their gated enclaves while the rapidly increasing unemployed get poorer at the bottom and become rebellious.
Then there are the cuts they want to make in government, so when they take their fancy cars out on the streets they will find potholes in roads desperately in need of repair - but no money is available.
Since they don't send their kids to public schools, they could care less about cutting education funding.
Wonder if they watch television to see what happens when the people get disgusted with the "overlords."
And I wonder how many want to live in the places like Bangalore or China where they are sending all the jobs.

The sad thing is that so many people panicked, sold and locked in their investment losses rather than riding out the storm. Even worse, I get the feeling that many people tip-toed back into the market again only after it had already recovered.

I'm not surprised that the rich are spending on luxury items. The prices of those goods have also been marked down.So a bargain for them as well. Plus, the wealthy know that inflation is on the horizon.

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