Long story short, even most millionaires haven’t got much. For households with a net worth above 500k, the mean and the median are both around 1 million dollars including home equity. This means that the air gets pretty thin once you hit about a million in total assets. And home equity is on average 30% of total assets for all groups, so even millionaires are vulnerable to losing that status with a few bad housing market years.
Black people are younger and disproportionately live in smaller, unmarried households with less than one full time worker. The racial wealth gap is partly a gap of not living in a married+kids household with 1.5-2 full time workers. The other part is not being 65 and long-married. Demographic lag means old married white couples have asset appreciation, and that there are still enough of them to keep the white wealth median in the six-figure range. Old married black women have a tiny asset gap, but there are just not very many of them as a group. Young and even middle-aged marrieds of any race have perhaps 100-150k in assets, including home equity. If you have more than 150k in assets, especially without home equity, you are flying pretty high.
As for overall net worth, despite the gaps, 1/4 of black households have six-figure or greater net worth. A little more than half of all white, non-Hispanic households have a six-figure or greater net worth. This roughly tracks in both cases with the marriage percentage.
|Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Survey of Income and Program Participation, 2014 Panel, Wave 1|
|Internet Release Date: 6/1/2017|
There are surveys of net worth that get into more detail, but surveying people on savings and assets just reveals that over the last 30 years there’s been a lot of volatility, with the basic numbers not budging much for the young and middle-aged once you account for real estate or stock bubbles inflating and popping. Sticking money in the bank is the most sturdy savings and it piles up the absolute slowest. The “we’ll all put a dollar in and pull four out in 30 years” has turned out to not lead to everyone getting to pull four dollars out. Weird!