WASHINGTON - Americans got wealthier for a second straight quarter in the fall, as the economic recovery again boosted home values and investments.
Net worth - the value of assets such as homes, bank accounts and investments, minus debts such as mortgages and credit cards - rose 5 percent from the second quarter to $53.4 trillion, the Federal Reserve said Thursday.
Even with the gain, Americans' net worth remains far below the peak of $65.3 trillion reached before the recession began, underscoring the vast loss of wealth over the last two years. Their net worth would need to rise an additional 22 percent just to return to its prerecession peak.
Investments provided the biggest boost in the July-September period. The value of corporate equities jumped $1.04 trillion, slightly less than the previous quarter's rise.
That increase mirrored the stock market's powerful showing. The Standard & Poor's 500 index, a barometer of the market, rose 15 percent during the third quarter. But it still remained 32 percent off the peak of October 2007.
And stocks' lofty performance isn't expected to be duplicated any time soon. Even with an additional 4 percent gain so far in the fourth quarter, the S&P index is still about 30 percent off its peak.