13 Sep

Census releases dire numbers on income and poverty in 2010


Tue Sep 13, 2011 at 09:15 AM PDT

by Laura Clawson

The O’Leary: It’s a disaster, Obama! Do something about it!

median income graph

The Census has released its data(PDF) on poverty, income and health insurance coverage in 2010, and there’s bad news and bad news. Which do you want first?The bad news is that median income declined almost no matter who you are. The best any demographic group (outside the very wealthiest, but they’re such a small number they don’t really come up in discussions of the median) could hope for is no statistically significant change.

Real median household income was $49,445 in 2010, a 2.3 percent decline from 2009. Since 2007, median household income has declined 6.4 percent (from $52,823) and is 7.1 percent below the median household income peak ($53,252) that occurred in 1999.

Median income declined for family households and non-family households. It declined for white, black and native-born households, and changes were not statistically significant for Asian and Hispanic-origin and foreign-born households. It declined in the Midwest, South and West and was not significantly changed in the Northeast.

The other bad news is that both the rate and absolute number of people living in poverty is up:

  • The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent—up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent
  • In 2010, 46.2 million people were in poverty, up from 43.6 million in 2009—the fourth consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty

EPI’s Working Economics blog points out that:

3.2 million: The number of people kept out of poverty by unemployment insurance
20.3 million: The number of people kept out of poverty by Social Security

The number of people without health insurance also increased.

There’s no real argument against the fact that these numbers point to the need for a jobs plan. President Obama has one. As Republicans line up against that plan, they’re lining up in favor of continued decline in the median income and continued increase in the poverty rate.

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