Generation X wealth cut by more than half in five years

The Census Bureau said householders age 35 to 44 suffered the largest percentage decline in median net worth from 2005 to 2010 as it dropped 59 percent to $33,200 from $72,970.

The biggest losses in wealth for 35-44 year olds was in home and rental property equity and equity in business. But net worth excluding their homes was also off $7,000.

A number of issues are at play here, the crash of the housing market, over-leveraged lifestyles and an employment sector with little opportunity to move up as managers and workers alike refuse to take risks and move.

Overall, household net worth in the U.S. declined 35 percent between 2005 and 2010, mostly because of a drop in home values.

Excluding home equity, median household wealth in the nation rose 8 percent to $15,000 from $13,859.

The imbalance between people with only high school educations and those with college degrees continued to widen, the Census Bureau reported.

But the number of households with zero, or negative net worth climbed to 18.7 percent in 2010, up from 14.9 percent. More households had zero or negative wealth in 2010 than any of the categories measuring positive rates.

For example, in 2005, 19.5 percent of U.S. households fell into the category of having a net worth between $100,000 and $299,999. While in 2010, only 17.4 percent were in this category.

Rob Varnon