Household net worth rose in 2013

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Household wealth rose to a new high as 2013 wrapped up. 22News spoke to people who live and work in Western Mass. to find out if they feel American families are more comfortable.

After finishing with fourth quarter highs, 2014 took off on the right foot, at least fiscally. Household net worth; home values, bank accounts, and stocks, increased $3 trillion at the end of last year, according to the Federal Reserve.

Economists say it’s promising because those kinds of gains make consumers feel more comfortable spending.

“I did find with home values the rates were starting to go up and things were starting to improve,” said Rebecca Feinberg. “I think there is a feeling the economy is slowly getting better and it feels like the job market is getting better.”

But economists at Ohio State University adjusted for inflation and found this current net worth, more than $80 trillion, is still 14 percent below the pre-recession peak in 2006. Conditions may be recovering, but many families are still spending cautiously.

“Things are more expensive than they were,” said Leo Shapiro of Longmeadow. “Go into the supermarket, it’s easy to see. When you can spend $100 and fit it in your glove box you know it’s a problem.”

Another sign of confidence though: Americans are borrowing a little more. Household debt increased slightly in the fourth quarter, as more people took out car and school loans.

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