Americans' household wealth rebounded last quarter to a record high as the stock market quickly recovered from a pandemic-induced plunge in March. Yet the gains flowed mainly to the most affluent households even as tens of millions of people endured job losses and shrunken incomes.


The full recovery of wealth even while the economy has recovered only about half the jobs lost to the pandemic recession underscores what many economists see as America's widening economic inequality. Approximately 29 million people are still collecting unemployment benefits.

Data compiled by Opportunity Insights, a research group, show that the highest-paying one-third of jobs have almost fully recovered from the recession, while the lowest-paying one-third of jobs remain 16% below pre-pandemic levels.


The richest one-tenth of Americans owned more than two-thirds of the nation's wealth, according to Fed data through the end of March, the latest period for which data are available. The top 1% owned 31%.


Rural workers meanwhile have lost out in the last four decades. The typical full-time rural worker earned $43,000 in 2018, but should have booked $78,000 if they'd kept up with national economic growth. Their share of growth stood about six percentage points lower than urban workers, according to a report by global think tank, Rand.


The amount of money in checking accounts jumped 33% to $1.8 trillion. Savings accounts rose 6.1% to $11.2 trillion.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly expressed concern about the widespread inequality in the U.S. economy and last week said it is likely inhibiting growth.

"Those are things that hold back our economy," he said at a news conference. "If we want to have the highest potential output and the best output for our economy, we need that prosperity to be very broadly spread."

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