WASHINGTON -- It took 5½ years.
Surging stock prices and steady home-price increases have finally allowed Americans to regain the $16 trillion in wealth they lost to the Great Recession. The gains are helping support the economy and could lead to further spending and growth.
The Federal Reserve says household wealth amounted to $66.1 trillion at the end of 2012. That was $1.2 trillion more than three months earlier. And it was 98 percent of the pre-recession peak.
Private economists calculate that further increases in stock and home prices this year mean that Americans' net worth has since topped the pre-recession peak of $67.3 trillion. Wealth had bottomed at $51.2 trillion in early 2009.
Some economists caution that the regained wealth might spur less consumer spending than it did before the recession.
CHRISTOPHER S. RUGABER
AP Economics Writer
The Associated Press