The richest 7% of American households saw their net worth grow by 28% to a whopping $3.2 million during between 2009 to 2011, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center.
In contrast, 93% of households lost money. Average household net worth for this group fell by 4% during the same period, down to about $133,800 per household.
What's with the huge discrepancy?
In a nutshell, it comes down to a difference in how the rich and the less affluent invest their earnings.
The vast majority of households tend to put their money in real estate –– namely, their homes –– an industry that took an enormous hit during the recession and has been one of the slowest to recover.
The wealthiest 7% (households earning $840,000 or more), on the other hand, had more money to invest in the stock market, which has rebounded at a faster rate. Between 2009 and 2011, the S&P 500 soared by 34% while the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index dropped by 5%.
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- Pew Research Center