U.S. Net Worth Statistics: The State of Wealth in 2021

What can you learn about growing your wealth by taking a closer look at U.S. net worth statistics? (Plus, how many billionaires are there really?)
Last updated Aug 18, 2021 | By Kerry Murray | Edited By Becca Borawski Jenkins
U.S. Net Worth Statistics

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Understanding net worth in the United States is about more than just doing the math of assets minus debts. It involves looking at wealth and income from a variety of lenses, including age, education, race, ethnicity, homeownership, family size, and more, across states and regions.

The Federal Reserve has been collecting data on net worth and all its components since 1989 through the Survey of Consumer Finance (SCF). Occurring every three years, this project gives a snapshot of the state of wealth in the U.S. so we can assess economic well-being and thorny issues of income inequality, including trends over time. The most recent version of the SCF is from 2019.

Let’s take a deeper look at this trove of net worth statistics and see what the data has to say.

Key findings:

  • Median net worth in the United States is $121,700, up 17.6 % from 20162
  • Average net worth is $748,800, up a more modest 2% from 20162
  • Black and Hispanic families had strong gains in median net worth between 2016 and 2019, 30% and 64% respectively, though the typical white family still has three to seven times the net worth3
  • Four-year college degree holders have a median net worth more than four times that of someone with only a high school diploma3
  • The top ten percent of households own 76% of all wealth in the U.S., while the bottom 50% of households own just 1% of all wealth4
In this article

The number of millionaires and billionaires in the U.S.

  • How many millionaires in the U.S.? According to the Global Wealth Report conducted by Credit Suisse, as of the end of 2020 there were 21,951,000 U.S. millionaires. This number is expected to rise by 28% to 28,055,000 by 2025.10
  • How many billionaires in the U.S.? According to Forbes, the number of U.S. billionaires rose from 614 in 2020 to 724 in 2021.9
  • How many Black billionaires in the U.S.? Seven. There are seven Black billionaires in the United States. Less than 1% of all billionaires in the United States are Black.9
  • How many women are billionaires in the U.S.? 87 women are U.S. billionaires, or 12%.9
  • Who is a high net worth individual? Credit Suisse has sought to define high net worth individuals (HNWI) as those with a net worth of $1 million to $50 million. Very high net worth individuals — or as Credit Suisse calls this category: ultra high net worth individuals (UHNW) — have a net worth of $50 million and above.10

Wealthiest billionaires in the United States9

  1. Jeff Bezos ($177 billion)
  2. Elon Musk ($151 billion)
  3. Bill Gates ($124 billion)
  4. Mark Zuckerberg ($97 billion)
  5. Warren Buffett ($96 billion)
  6. Larry Ellison ($93 billion)
  7. Larry Page ($91.5 billion)
  8. Sergey Brin ($89 billion)
  9. Steve Ballmer ($68.7 billion)
  10. Alice Walton ($61.9 billion)

Wealthiest women billionaires in the United States9

  1. Alice Walton ($61.9 billion)
  2. MacKenzie Scott ($53 billion)
  3. Julia Koch and family ($46.4 billion)
  4. Miriam Adelson ($38.2 billion)
  5. Jacqueline Mars ($31.3 billion)
  6. Abigail Johnson ($20.9 billion)
  7. Laurene Powell Jobs and family ($19 billion)
  8. Blair Parry-Okeden ($9.4 billion)
  9. Ann Walton Kroenke ($8.4 billion)
  10. Diane Hendricks ($8 billion)

All of the Black billionaires in the United States9

  1. Robert F. Smith ($6 billion)
  2. David Steward ($3.7 billion)
  3. Oprah Winfrey ($2.7 billion)
  4. Kanye West ($1.8 billion)
  5. Michael Jordan ($1.6 billion)
  6. Jay-Z ($1.4 billion)
  7. Tyler Perry ($1 billion)

Wealthiest Asian-American billionaires in the United States9

  1. Eric Yuan ($14.9 billion)
  2. Jensen Huang ($11.8 billion)
  3. Jay Chaudry ($10 billion)
  4. David Sun ($9.1 billion)
  5. John Tu ($9.1 billion)
  6. Shahid Khan ($8 billion)
  7. Patrick Soon-Shiong ($7.5 billion)
  8. Min Kao ($4.5 billion)
  9. Ken Xie ($4.2 billion)
  10. Rakesh Gangwal ($3.9 billion)

Wealthiest Hispanic billionaires in the United States9

  1. Ernest Garcia II ($19.5 billion)
  2. Ernest Garcia III ($7.4 billion)
  3. Orlando Bravo ($4.4 billion)
  4. Arturo Moreno ($3.4 billion)
  5. José Feliciano ($3 billion)
  6. Pablo Legorreta ($2.9 billion)
  7. Alejandro Santo Domingo ($2.9 billion)
  8. Andrés Santo Domingo ($1.7 billion)
  9. Jorge Perez ($1.7 billion)
  10. Jorge Mas ($1.2 billion)

The youngest* billionaires in the United States9

  1. Austin Russell, age 26 ($2.4 billion)
  2. Andy Fang, age 28 ($2 billion)
  3. StanleyTang, age 28 ($2 billion)
  4. Sam Bankman-Fried, age 29 ($8.7 billion)
  5. Evan Spiegel, age 30 ($8.7 billion)
  6. Whitney Wolfe Herd, age 31 ($1.3 billion)
  7. Bobby Murphy, age 32 ($11.9 billion)
  8. Fred Ehrsam, age 32 ($1.9 billion)
  9. Lukas Walton, age 34 ($15.6 billion)
  10. Vlad Tenev, age 34 ($1 billion)

*Age as of July 2021

Net worth statistics

Median and average net worth by age in the U.S.

Net worth tends to trend upward with age. Starting from zero or in debt in their 20s, a typical U.S. family will grow wealth during their main earning years and pay down debt, slow their rate of wealth accumulation as they reach retirement, and then draw on their savings accounts.

Age Median net worth 2019 Change from 2016 Average net worth 2019 Change from 2016
Less than 35

$13,900

+19%

$76,300

-6%
35 - 44

$91,300

+44%

$436,200

+42%
45 - 54

$168,600

+28%

$833,200

+8%
55 - 64

$212,500

+7%

$1,175,900

-5%
65 - 74

$266,400

+12%

$1,217,700

+7%
75 or more

$254,800

-10%

$977,600

-14%

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Net worth and assets:

  • Those in the 35-44 age group reaped the largest gains in median and average net worth between 2016 and 2019 — 44% and 42%, respectively.
  • The median net worth for the 35-44 group, $91,300, is still more than 16% below the pre-Recession median net worth of $109,430 in 2007. Yet average American net worth is up 8.6% over the pre-Recession number, which could be a sign of growing wealth inequality.
  • Increases in net worth for the 35-44 age group from 2016 are attributed to gains in net home equity.2 The median home value for this group in 2019 is $250,000 and is only just now approaching the pre-Recession median home value high of $253,050, more than 10 years later.
  • Homeownership participation for the 35-44 age group — 61.4% in 2019 — is still significantly below the pre-Recession high of 68.3% in 2004.
  • The generational wealth gap continues. Older families (65-74) have 19 times the wealth of younger families (under 35) in 2019. In comparison, this same wealth gap was a factor of 12 in 2016 and a factor of 7 in 1989.4

Liabilities:

  • Student loans loom large for working-age families and contribute to a growing debt-to-income ratio for these groups.8
  • 41.4% of families under 35 held student loans with an average (mean) balance of just over $41,000.
  • For the 35-44 group, almost 33.7% had outstanding student loan balances with an average of $42,000 still owed.
  • For those 45-54, less than a fourth (23.3%) had a student loan, yet the average outstanding balance was still close to the younger groups at $39,600.
  • As the 55-64 age group approaches retirement, 12.2% have student loans, and the average balance is $37,600.

Median and average net worth by education level in the U.S.

Median Average
No high school diploma $20,780 $137,580
High school diploma $73,890 $304,590
Some college $89,280 $374,010
College degree $308,800 $1,516,91

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Net worth and assets:

  • Those with a college degree have family wealth almost three and half times that of those with some college, more than four times those with a high school diploma, and almost 15 times the group without a high school diploma.
  • Median net worth for those without high school has been on a downward trajectory since this survey began in 1989. Median net worth for those without a high school diploma in 1989 was $48,090, a 57% decline to 2019. Median net worth for those without a high school diploma in 2016 was $24,270, a 14% decline.

Liabilities:

  • 29.1% of those with a college degree have student loans with an average balance of $55,880.
  • 25.8% of those with some college have student loans with an average balance less than half of the college crowd at $26,820.
  • 37% of borrowers with outstanding student loans who left before completing an associate degree are behind on payments.7

Median net worth by marital status in the U.S.

U.S. Net Worth Statistics

Source: U.S. Census Bureau - The Wealth of Households: 2017.6 Note this chart is in 2017 dollars. Marital data was asked but not reported in the 2019 SCF. Instead, the term “couple” is used and includes respondents who are married or living together as partners.2


Net worth and assets:

  • The percentage of adults ages 25 to 34 who are married has declined from 57% in 1989 to 37% in 2016 (SCF 2016). Yet, they still have a commanding share of home equity.14
  • Single women under the age of 35 have just 13.0% of the median net worth compared to their single male counterparts ($1,310 vs. $10,110), and women 35 to 54 have just under 35% ($13,730 vs. $39,260) of the median net worth of single men that age.6
  • By ages 55-64, the net worth gap between single men and women narrows, with women having 83% of the net worth men have. And by age 65 and older, single women have 90% of the median net worth of single men, a difference the U.S. Census Bureau does not consider statistically significant.6

Liabilities:

  • For singles and unmarried couples aged 25 to 34, student loans are the primary debt before credit cards and secured loans and seem to cause the most stress.14
  • Median student loan debt for those married or living with a romantic partner was $10,400 and $7,900, respectively, while single young adults owed $20,000.14

Median and average net worth by family structure

Median net worth Average net worth
Single, no child, age <55

$15,700

$131,760

Single, no child, age >55

$119,500

$444,900

Single with child(ren)

$36,710

$284,620

Couple, no child

$251,700

$1,314,550

Couple with child(ren)

$166,300

$879,210

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Net worth and assets:

  • Most research on families with children focuses on income levels and distribution, yet researchers have noted net worth impacts children’s well-being more than a family’s income.15
  • Homeownership helps families maintain and even increase wealth, up to one and half times over non-ownership families, while managing the added expenses children bring to household finances.15
  • The homeownership rate for couples with children in 2019 was 75.7%, and for singles with children the rate was 50.4%.

Liabilities:

  • According to the USDA, the average cost in 2017 of raising a child in the United States was $233,610 (from birth to age 17). 29% of this eye-opening cost of raising a child goes toward housing and 18% to food.
  • The average family in the U.S. in 2017 had 1.9 children.16
  • Multiplying that average cost of $233,610 by 1.9 children, you get $443,859 in average child-rearing expenses. This is coincidentally quite close (less than a 2% difference) to the $435,340 gap in average net worth between married couples with kids and those without in the chart above.

Median and average net worth by homeownership status in the U.S.

Net home equity is one of the largest contributors to net worth for most families in the U.S.6 Yet when too high a percentage of a family’s wealth is concentrated in the primary residence, the family can be vulnerable to downturns in the housing market.

Homeownership follows the typical life cycle of wealth, with rates of homeownership increasing rapidly between young families and those approaching middle age.

Median net worth Average net worth Percentage of population
Owner

$254,900

$1,099,070

64.9%

Renter (or other)

$6,270

$95,560

35.1%

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Median home value Average home value Percent homeowners
Under 35

$185,000

$222,600

36.2%

35 - 44

$250,000

$343,640

61.4%

45 - 54

$250,000

$402,930

69.7%

55 - 64

$230,000

$384,320

74.1%

65 - 74

$240,000

$356,450

78.4%

75 or more

$200,000

$291,710

82.4%

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

  • Net worth of homeowners across all age categories only grew a modest 3.56% from 2016 to 2019.
  • From 2016 to 2019, the median home value rose 14% across age groups to $225,000, yet the median value of home-secured debt (mortgages, home equity loans, etc.) also rose 14% to $134,800.2
  • For the under 35 group, 46% of white families are homeowners, but for Black families at the same age, only 17% are homeowners.17
  • This large gap between white and Black families just starting out as homeowners may reflect different levels of parental wealth as Black families are much less likely to receive cash assistance from parents to meet down payment requirements.17

Net worth by U.S. region

U.S. Net Worth Statistics

Source: U.S. Census Bureau - Survey of Income and Program Participation: 201818


  • The difference in net worth between regions can be attributed to varying rates of median home equity. For example, the median net home equity for a respondent in the South is $100,000 versus $200,000 for the median net home equity in the West.18
  • Higher median incomes by region account for net worth differences too. For example, the median income in the West is 20% higher than that in the South.

Net worth by race

U.S. Net Worth Statistics

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193


Net worth and assets:

  • Median net worth for Black families rose from $18,240 in 2016 to $24,100 in 2019. This represents a gain of more than 30% but still below the pre-Recession median net worth of $25,920 in 2007.
  • Average net worth for Black families fell slightly from $146,830 in 2016 to $142,330 in 2019, a reduction of 3%.
  • Hispanic families experienced a strong rise in median net worth in 2019, rising to $36,050 from $22.040 in 2016, an increase of 64%. This is the highest median net worth for Hispanic families since the SCF began in 1989.
  • Median net worth for white families is almost 7 times that of Black families and 3.5 times that of Hispanic families. This is almost the same wealth gap between Black and white families as before the Great Recession (in 2007) when white families’ median net worth was a bit over 7 times that of Black and Hispanic families.
  • For the fourth quarter of 2019, total wealth in the U.S. was $111.04 trillion. White families held $93.55 trillion (84.2%), Black families held $4.43 trillion (3.99%), and Hispanic families held $2.58 trillion (2.32%).5 Yet in 2019, 14% of the U.S. population identified as Black12, and Hispanics made up 18%.13
  • If Black and Hispanic wealth was proportional to their percentage of the population, Black families would hold $15.55 trillion and Hispanic families would hold $19.99 trillion in respective net worth. That is a gigantic wealth difference of $11.12 trillion for Black families and an even larger difference of $17.41 trillion for Hispanic families.
  • 70% of the $111.04 trillion of U.S. net worth is held by older Americans, age 55 and up.5

Net worth and student loans

Because an analysis of income and liabilities are part of determining net worth, the burden of student loan debt becomes more transparent. Here are some facts revealed by looking at net worth:

U.S. Net Worth Statistics

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193


  • For the under 35 age group, median student loan debt increased by 11.89% over 2016 levels to $22,000. The average student loan debt increased by 18.38% to $41,410.
  • When millennial renters (age range 23 to 38 in 2019 per the Pew Research Center) were asked by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations what was holding them back from purchasing a home, 55.7% responded “too much debt/not saved enough,” largely referring to student loan debt.11
  • Researchers found that a borrower’s experience with relentless student loan debt reduced portfolio risk taking and therefore lowered early investment in high return “risky investments” (defined as stocks, stock mutual funds, mixed mutual funds, or corporate bonds etc.). Each quartile increase of student debt as a fraction of financial assets lowers the representation of these “risky” asset classes in the mix of total financial assets by 20%.19

How net worth is distributed

Wealth distribution in America is often broken into equal sections, or percentiles, in order to understand better how wealth is accumulated, in what quantities, and by whom. The charts below use quintiles and quartiles to break up the data in the 2019 SCF.

A quintile is when the data is separated into five different yet equal sections. This quintile chart is determined by income. So if your income placed you in the 65th percentile, 65% of the population would earn less than you and 35% would earn more than you. This would place you in the fourth quintile group represented by “80” in the chart below.

The second chart uses quartiles with the fourth quartile being split again to separate out the top 10% (or decile). Quartiles separate a distribution in four equal sections, each one equivalent to 25% of the population in the dataset. As with quintiles, quartiles are counted from top to bottom with the first quartile the one with the lowest values.

Quintile table with fifth quintile split and the tenth decile indicated

Percentile of usual income 2019 Percent change from 2016
20

$28,400

+5.6%
40

$47,900

+3.5%
60

$75,300

+1.9%
80

$127,300

+7.4%
90

$188,400

+10.5%

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Takeaways:

  • Median household income increased across all quintiles from 2016 to 2019. There was little variation across income groups, though the 90th percentile received the largest percentage gain.2
  • The bottom half of families (the first two quintiles and half of the third) represent those bringing in income of less than $59,000. Despite being half of all American families, they earn about 15% of the country’s total household income.4

Quartile table with fifth quartile split and the tenth decile indicated

Percentile of net worth 2019 Percent change from 2016
25

$12,400

+14.8%
50

$121,700

+17.6%
75

$403,800

+2.9%
90

$1,220,200

-3.3%

Source: Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 20193

Takeaways:

  • The top decile (90-100 in quartile chart), or top 10% of high net worth U.S. families, own 76% of the wealth, according to analysis done by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • 12.9 million families are in this top decile, and a net worth of $1.22 million is the threshold to join.4
  • The top 10% comprises 13% of the wealthiest white families, 1% of all Black families, and 3% of all Hispanic families.4
  • The top 10% is well-educated — you are most likely to land in this group if you have a postgraduate degree, as 27% of respondents with a higher degree are in the top 10%4.
  • Of families with an undergraduate degree, the wealthiest 16% of degree holders land in the top 10%.4
  • If you do not have a four-year college degree, you’re least likely to be in the top 10% as only the wealthiest 4% with some college or less occupy this top tier of wealth.4
  • The middle 40% of U.S. families own 22% of the wealth. 51.5 million families are in this group.4
  • The bottom 50% own just 1% of the wealth in the U.S. and have a median net worth less than $122,000.4
  • The bottom 50% includes 64.3 million families, with 13.4 million of these families having a negative net worth.4
  • The bottom 50% includes a large majority of Black and Hispanic families, 75% of all Black families and 67% of all Hispanic families fall in this tier. Just 46% of all white families are included in the bottom 50%.4
  • This lower 50% is less educated — 79% of all respondents without a high school diploma find themselves in the lower 50%; 58% of those with a high school diploma but no college are also here.4
  • Even though a college degree typically correlates to a higher net worth, 31% of all college graduates are in the bottom 50th%.4

What is net worth?

Net worth is a measure of individual or household wealth — what you own minus what you owe.

When figuring out how to calculate net worth for yourself or your household, first add up all your assets such as cash accounts, investments, and property. Then total your liabilities such as your mortgage, credit card debt, and outstanding loans.

Your total assets minus your total liabilities equals your net worth.

Your net worth is a more powerful indicator of wealth than income because it speaks to what you actually do with your money, from spending to saving to investing, and what financial resources beyond income you have access to.

Over time, tracking your net worth can help you assess your financial health and see if your current money habits are on track with your financial goals.

Average net worth vs. median net worth

The average net worth of a U.S. family is $748,800, according to the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) conducted by the Federal Reserve in 2019. The median family net worth from that same survey is $121,700. Why the huge difference between the average and the median?

The average net worth is largely dependent upon the total dollar value in the survey. When there is a large gap between the median and the average values, as there is here, that indicates there is significant skew in the data and the average net worth will have less relevance for your typical household. In fact, high net worth individuals have such extreme concentrated wealth that the Federal Reserve deliberately leaves off the members of the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans from the survey, yet the upper 10% of families have enough wealth to skew the net worth values significantly.

The median net worth is more heavily influenced by the distribution of wealth across all families in the survey — the number of respondents is more important than the total dollar value of wealth — and is equivalent to the 50th percentile. Hence, half of all U.S. families have a net worth below the 50th percentile value of $121,700, and half of all families have a net worth above that.

Researchers and data scientists typically prefer the median net worth when discussing wealth as money values can have steep growth curves that skew the data. The median is less influenced by the extreme wealth of a very small group of survey respondents.

How to increase your net worth

When looking deeper behind the numbers and demographics of net worth, trends emerge such as heavier debt loads for working-age families and a widening of inequality in wealth distribution. It also becomes clear which assets gain value over time and the difference between debt that weighs you down, such as credit card debt, and debt that helps you build wealth, such as a mortgage.

Examining net worth across age, education, race, and more can be very useful when trying to set yourself up for financial well-being now and in the future. By focusing on wealth and not simply income, you can align your behaviors to suit your long term personal finance goals better.

In practical terms, this means looking at your financial situation and:

Sources

1. Federal Reserve 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF)
2. Changes in U.S. Family Finances from 2016 to 2019: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances, Vol. 106, No. 5
3. Federal Reserve - Survey of Consumer Finances, 1989 - 2019
4. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Wealth Inequality in America over Time: Key Statistics
5. Federal Reserve - Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S. since 1989
6. U.S. Census Bureau - The Wealth of Households: 2017
7. Federal Reserve Report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households in 2018 - May 2019
8. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Young Families' Wealth after the Great Recession
9. Forbes Billionaires 2021: The Richest People in the World
10. Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report
11. Equifax - Millennials, Mortgages and Student Debt
12. Pew Research Center - The Growing Diversity of Black America
13. Pew Research Center - Where the US Hispanic population grew most, least from 2010 to 2019
14. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Married Couples Surpass Other Young Adults in Wealth
15. Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis - Wealth Mobility of Families Raising Children in the 21st Century
16. Statista Research Department: Average Number of Own Children per U.S. Family with Own Children 1960-2020
17. Federal Reserve - Disparities in Wealth by Race and Ethnicity in the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances
18. U.S. Census Bureau - Survey of Income and Program Participation: 2018
19. Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago - Student Debt, Risk Preferences, and Household Net Worth

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Author Details

Kerry Murray Kerry is a freelance copy editor and fact checker who has lived and worked on four continents. Her previous career as a university instructor and researcher in the social sciences informs her critical approach to data and what constitutes a legitimate source.