Household Wealth Since the Recession: Average American Down; Members of Congress Up

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
(graphic: Steve Straehley)

The Great Recession hit hard for most Americans, but not their representatives in Congress. According to an annual survey, senators and representatives got wealthier while the average household lost ground.


The Center for Response Politics (CRP) says the median net worth of members of Congress went up 2.5% from 2012 to 2013, climbing to $1,029,505, 18 times that of the average American household, whose median net worth was only $56,355.


CRP also reported “once again, the majority of members of Congress are millionaires — 271 of the 533 members currently in office, or 50.8 percent.”


A study (pdf) produced by the Russell Sage Foundation says the median wealth of the middle class decreased substantially over the past 10 years. In 2003, the 50th percentile of Americans enjoyed an average wealth of $87,992, but by 2013 the number had fallen to $56,335.


CRP says the median net worth of American families dropped by nearly one-third between 2007 and 2013, while senators’ median net worth rose from $2.3 million to $2.8 million and House members’ net worth climbed from $708,500 to $843,507.


“At a time when income inequality is much debated, the representatives we choose are overwhelmingly affluent,” CRP executive director Sheila Krumholz said. “Whether voters elect them because they are successful or because people of modest means do not run, or for other reasons, is unclear, but struggling Americans should not assume that their elected officials understand their circumstances.”

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

One Member of Congress = 18 American Households: Lawmakers’ Personal Finances Far From Average (by Russ Choma,

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality, and the Great Recession (by Fabian Pfeffer, Sheldon Danziger, and Robert Shoeni, Russell Sage Foundation) (pdf)

For the First Time, Half of Members of Congress are Millionaires…Democrats Worth more than Republicans  (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


cole epstein 9 years ago
Actually questions---Is the Congress of the U.S. still giving itself a raise ever year of $5000.00 --or is it more? And does the Congress of the U.S still want to think of itself as CEO's?

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