The Census Bureau reported today that median household income was essentially stagnant last year, at $51,017. Adjusted for inflation, that leaves income 8.3 percent lower than where it stood in 2007 before the recession. The poverty rate was 15 percent, with 46.5 million of our fellow citizens living at or below the official poverty line. That’s 2.5 percentage points higher than in 2007 and close to a post-War on Poverty record. Of this, 43 percent were in “deep poverty,” with half below the poverty line. In 2000, the rate of poverty was 11.3 percent. In the late 1950s, before LBJ’s War on Poverty began, the rate was above 22 percent.
The Gini ratio, which measures income inequality was basically unchanged at 0.477. Still, it is at a record high. In the late 1960s, it stood around 0.39. As was reported recently, the top 1 percent made up all their losses from the downturn and have accumulated a record share of national income.
Breaking down the numbers reveals a grim picture of not just stagnation, but in many cases a retrograde move. The typical American family makes less than it did in 1989.
For example, adjusted for inflation, men working full time made $49,398 in 2012 compared with $51,668 in 1973. From 2000 to 2012, the median white, non-Hispanic income fell 6.3 percent. Women have fared relatively better, $37,791 vs. $29,261. Still, over the past decade full-time women workers with a college degree have lost 0.8 percent in median earnings, while the same cohort of men have lost 5.2 percent. From 2000 to 2012, median non-elderly household income declined by 11.6 percent. During the same period, African-American households lost 14.8 percent and Hispanic households 11.8 percent.
The Census showed a slight improvement in those without health insurance, 43.7 million, down from 4.39 million. The wrinkle: The share of the population in employer-sponsored health plans fell by 10.8 percentage points from 2000 to 2012.
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Today’s Econ Haiku:
The deadliest catch
Is doing nothing to stop
CO2 at sea