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The rich are getting richer, while the rest lose ground

April 24, 2013: 2:49 PM ET


The net worth of American households grew by $5 trillion in the first two years of the economic recovery, but not everyone shared in the riches.

The top 7% of American families saw their wealth grow to $25.4 trillion in 2011, up from $19.8 trillion two years earlier. The remaining 93% of Americans experienced a decline in net worth to $14.8 trillion, down from $15.4 trillion, according to a new analysis by the Pew Research Center.

The dividing line between the two sides isĀ $836,033 in 2011. The 8 million U.S. households with a net worth at or above that point got richer as America pulled out of its recession: Their average net worth rose by 28% from 2009 to 2011. Meanwhile, the 111 million remaining American households saw their wealth decline by 4%.

Why such a difference in fortunes? It's because the rich are much more heavily invested in the stock and bond markets, which rallied during the recovery. Less affluent households typically have their wealth tied up in their homes, and the housing market remained flat between 2009 and 2011.

By 2011, the average wealth of the top tier was almost 24 times that of the rest of Americans. Two years earlier, the ratio stood at less than 18-to-1.

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About This Author
Tami Luhby
Tami Luhby
Senior writer, CNNMoney

Tami Luhby is a senior writer at CNNMoney and covers income inequality, state fiscal problems, unemployment, housing policy and other economic issues. Luhby previously covered personal finance for Newsday and banking for Crain's New York Business.

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