American households saw their wealth increase at the end of last year, mainly because the healing economy boosted stock portfolios.
The Federal Reserve says household net worth rose 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter to $54.2 trillion. It marked the third straight quarter of gains. Net worth had risen 4.5 percent in the second quarter of 2009 and an even stronger 5.5 percent in the third quarter.
Net worth is the value of assets such as homes, checking accounts and investments minus debts like mortgages and credit cards.
Even with the gain, Americans' net worth would have to rise an additional 21 percent to get back to its pre-recession peak of $65.9 trillion. That shows the vast loss of wealth people have suffered from the worst downturn since the 1930s.
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