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Net worth of richest Americans soars by 13 percent in 2012.

Hard-pressed workers struggling to hang on to jobs and pay their bills will be relieved to learn that the America’s billionaires are not suffering due to the ongoing economic disaster. In fact they have never had it so good.

Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the wealthiest individuals in the United States. This year’s annual survey gives a stark snapshot of the obscene levels of wealth inequality in the US.

The net wealth of the Forbes 400 has now more than recovered from the drop it suffered during the 2008 financial crisis to reach a new record high even as the living standards continue to decline for the mass of working people. The net worth of the richest 400 billionaires in the United States rose 13 percent from last year to $1.7 trillion. This compares to a 1.7 percent annual growth rate for the US economy as a whole.

The publication of the rich list follows reports of stunning declines in median net wealth in the United States. The median net worth of the average American household fell 40 percent between 2007 and 2010 to approximately the level recorded in 1992, according to the US Federal Reserve. Since 1982 the net worth of those on the Forbes 400 list has grown 15-fold while wealth of the average household has stagnated.

Collectively the wealthiest five individuals are worth $34 billion more than one year ago. That amounts to an increase more than triple last year’s rise. Overall only 66 of the 400 saw their net worth shrink while 241 enjoyed an increase.

“The gap between the very rich and the merely rich increased and helped drive up the average net worth of the Forbes 400 members to an all-time record,” said Forbes Senior Wealth Editor Luisa Kroll.

The average net worth of the 400 wealthiest Americans rose to $4.2 billion, up more than 10 percent from last year, while the minimum net wealth required to make the list rose to $1.1 billion, up from $1.05 billion last year. To give some measure of the total wealth of this group, it amounts to one-eighth of all the goods and services produced by the US economy this year or more than the entire discretionary spending proposed in the 2013 federal budget. It is roughly equal to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of India, the world’s 11th largest economy. Read more

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