Fed: Family Incomes Fell in '04

The average income of American families, after adjusting for inflation, declined by 2.3 percent in 2004 compared to 2001 while their net worth rose but at a slower pace.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the drop in inflation-adjusted incomes left the average family income at $70,700 in 2004. The median, or point where half the families earned more and half less, did rise slightly in 2004 after adjusting for inflation to $43,200, up 1.6 percent from the 2001 level.

The median, or midpoint for net worth rose by 1.5 percent to $93,100 from 2001 to 2004. That growth was far below the 10.3 percent gain in median net worth from 1998 to 2001, a period when the stock market reached record highs before starting to decline in early 2000.

The Fed's results were published in the 2004 Survey of Consumer Finances, a document which provides a comprehensive view of how Americans are faring on such pocketbook issues as incomes and net worth.