It may be hard to believe it while money is so tight amid the cost of living crisis, but the average American household has achieved millionaire status.
To be precise, the mean net worth of an American household, adjusted for inflation, was $1.06 million in 2022, according to the Federal Reserve’s consumer finance survey.
In comparison, in 2019 the mean net worth of an average household was $868,000, marking a 23% jump.
Despite the economic challenges brought about by the pandemic and then war in Ukraine, the average household was significantly better off last year than before the pandemic.
Even when looking at the median—another measure of the average, which represents the midpoint in the ranking and is less likely to be skewed by exceptionally high or low numbers—the typical American household was worth $192,900.
Although that figure is less exciting for aspirational workers, it still represents an impressive after-inflation gain of 37% over three years.
The mean is substantially higher than the median because it is boosted by the top 10% of earners, who have a net worth, on average, of $6.63 million, according to the Fed. Meanwhile, households in the bottom 10% had a mean net worth of $5,300 in 2022.
Mean net worth is calculated by adding up the net worths of all American households and then dividing by the number of households.
Booming housing market creates millionaires
The research highlights the importance of getting on the property ladder if you want to build wealth.
Nearly two out of every three American families were homeowners last year, reflecting a slight increase from the previous three years—and as the housing market boomed during the pandemic, so did the pockets of property owners.
The average net worth of homeowners stood at $1.53 million in 2022, compared with just $155,000 for renters. Even in the U.K., over 41,000 homeowners became millionaires—a rise of 6% from the year prior —as house prices skyrocketed last year.
But while the surge in home prices has benefited those already on the ladder, it creates a financial setback for aspiring homeowners. Another Fed survey released in May, found that 65% of Americans who rent are doing so because they can’t afford a down payment to buy a home.
Still, 3.5 million people lost millionaire status last year
Although the average household is getting richer, the actual number of millionaires is declining.
The number of adults with assets of more than $1 million fell from 62.9 million at the end of 2021 to 59.4 million at the end of 2022, according to the UBS’ annual wealth report—and it’s the sharpest fall since the 2008 financial crash.
Even in the U.S., where there are significantly more millionaires than anywhere else in the world, 1.8 million people lost their “millionaire status” last year. Now, the total number of millionaires in the U.S. sits at around 22.7 million.
In the U.K., the number of millionaires fell by 440,000 to 2.6 million, the third largest fall behind Japan, which dropped from 3.2 million to 2.6 million. Meanwhile, the number of individuals globally with more than $50 million fell by 22,500 to 243,000.