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Americans’ Net Worth Sees Record Growth as Asset Preferences Shifted: Report


While nearly all Americans own assets in some form, varying risk tolerance, financial management, goals and more may lead individuals to prefer different asset classes over others. Oftentimes, these preferences may be in part based on more external factors, such as inflation and interest rates, which may impact the return on investments. From 2019 to 2022, the economic landscape was very volatile, resulting in many Americans shifting their assets from one type to another. During the same time, American net worth jumping a record 37%, with one age group’s net worth rising a meteoric 143% during these three years, according to an October 2023 paper from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

If you’d like to increase your net worth or pursue other personal financial goals, consider discussing your options with a financial advisor.

American Net Worth Growth During the Pandemic

The Fed report found growth in households’ median net worth. Real median net worth mushroomed from $141,100 in 2019 to $192,900. Those figures were adjusted to account for inflation, which was calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Price Indicator calculator to reflect that $1 in 2019 was equal to $1.15 in 2022. The Fed reported that this expansion of net worth was the largest median net growth recorded to date by its surveys. The net worth growth was also broken down by age:

Aged less than 35:
– Median net worth in 2019: $16,100
– Median net worth in 2022: $39,000
– Growth: 143%

Age 35 to 44:
– Median net worth in 2019: $105,900
– Median net worth in 2022: $135,600
– Growth: 28%

Age 45 to 54:
– Median net worth in 2019: $195,400
– Median net worth in 2022: $247,200
– Growth: 27%

Age 55 to 64:
– Median net worth in 2019: $246,300
– Median net worth in 2022: $364,500
– Growth: 48%

Age 65 to 74:
– Median net worth in 2019: $308,800
– Median net worth in 2022: $409,900
– Growth: 33%

Age 75 and up:
– Median net worth in 2019: $295,400
– Median net worth in 2022: $335,600
– Growth: 14%

Increases in the value of homes owned by families as well as a booming stock market that together outpaced inflation were two factors driving the powerful surge in net worth, the Fed suggested. There was also some narrowing of the wealth gap, as showed by the smaller increase of 23% in the real mean net worth to $1,063,700. Mean net worth figures are influenced by a relatively small number of very wealthy people, so when mean net worth grows less than median net worth, it indicates less inequality in wealth distribution.

For help establishing a financial plan to make the most out of your income and assets, consider speaking with a financial advisor.

Asset Allocation Changes

Examining changes in the ownership of specific types of assets revealed some significant changes. The most marked happening over the three-year period between examinations of asset ownership was the increase in direct ownership of stocks. In 2019, just 15.2% of Americans owned stocks. By 2022, that number had increased to 21%.

Another change of smaller magnitude but affecting more people appeared with regard to retirement accounts. In 2019, just over half of Americans had some type of retirement account, such as Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) and 401(k) plans. By 2022, that number had increased to 54.3%, up nearly four percentage points from 50.5% percent three years earlier.

Mutual funds grew somewhat less in popularity. In 2022, 11.5% of people reported owning mutual funds, up from 9% in 2019.

Those were just a few of many types of assets the bank examined. Others included certificates of deposit, bonds and cash-value life insurance policies. Ownership of some of those assets became noticeably less popular during the period. Cash-value life insurance policies, for instance, were owned by 19% of people in 2019, but that number had fallen to16.1% in 2022. Certificates of deposit also were owned by fewer people, just 6.5% in 2022 compared to 7.6% in the prior survey.

The most widely owned assets were transaction accounts such as bank checking accounts. Those were owned by 98.6% of people in 2022, essentially the same as the 98.2% who owned them in 2019. Bonds were the least popular asset type. Just 1.1% of people owned bonds in 2022, same as in 2019.

The bank also examined non-financial assets, various kinds of which were reported to belong to 91.4% of people in 2019 and 92.3% in 2022.  Vehicles were the most widely owned non-financial asset, reported by 86.6% in 2022 and 85.4% in 2019. Next came a primary residence, owned by 66.1% in 2022 and 64.9% in 2019. Few sizable changes in ownership of non-financial assets appeared, although business equity increased from 13.4% to 14.6% and equity in nonresidential property was 6.7% in 2022, down from 5.9% in 2019.

The “best” portfolio may look different for everyone and is subjective. A financial advisor can help you determine appropriate investments for your net worth and goals. Get matched with a fiduciary advisor for free.

Bottom Line

Significantly more households acquired stocks and opened retirement savings accounts from 2019 to 2022, and the period also saw marked increases in family net worth. The growth in stock ownership was the largest recorded to date by a periodic survey of household finances conducted by federal data gatherers. Similarly, the boost of net worth was also the largest in history and, according to the Federal Reserve, which conducted and published the analysis, more than twice as much as the next-highest growth figure over a similar number of years.


  • Deciding which assets to own and selecting types that have potential to increase in value is a job a financial advisor can help you tackle. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Where you live can have a powerful effect on your ability to grow your net worth. SmartAsset’s Cost of Living Calculator performs a side-by-side comparison of the costs in different locations so you can determine how much a move potentially could increase or reduce costs.
  • Keep an emergency fund on hand in case you run into unexpected expenses. An emergency fund should be liquid — in an account that isn’t at risk of significant fluctuation like the stock market. The tradeoff is that the value of liquid cash can be eroded by inflation. But a high-interest account allows you to earn compound interest. Compare savings accounts from these banks.

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