U.S. household wealth declined for the first time in two years in the first quarter of 2022, edging down to $149.3 trillion as a drop in the stock market outweighed further gains in home values, a Federal Reserve report on Thursday showed.
Household net worth declined by more than $500 billion from a record $149.8 trillion at the end of last year, the Fed's quarterly snapshot of the national balance sheet showed. The drop was driven by a $3 trillion fall in the value of corporate equities, while real estate values climbed another $1.7 trillion.
It was the first decline in household wealth since the first quarter of 2020, when the onset of the coronavirus pandemic shook financial markets and caused a short but deep recession.
Still, the report showed household balance sheets overall remained healthy through the first three months of the year - some $32.5 trillion above pre-pandemic levels - and looked likely to continue to support strength in consumer spending in the face of high inflation.
That said, stock markets have continued weakening into the second quarter over concern about a surge in inflation to 40-year highs and whether the Fed's aggressive response to it could stall the economy. That suggests Americans' wealth likely took another hit from the start of April onward.
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