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Jon Talton

Analysis and commentary on economic news, trends and issues, with an emphasis on Seattle and the Northwest.

September 18, 2014 at 10:24 AM

State’s income stagnant in 2013, poverty rises

First the good news: Washington’s median household income remains above the national average. The bad: It barely moved from 2012 to 2013. This information comes from a Census Bureau data dump today that also showed Seattle with the largest rent increase among major cities.

That fits because Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue saw its median household income rise 1.7 percent to $67,479. It ranked fourth-highest total income among major metros. The national average was $52,250, up 0.6 percent.

Last year, the state median was $58,405, up $37 from 2012. Don’t spend it all in one place. The median means half of all households made less and half made more. Eleven states had higher incomes, including No. 1 Alaska, with $72,237 thanks to oil. The lowest was Mississippi at $37,963.

Elsewhere in the Northwest: Idaho, $46,783, up 1.5 percent, and Oregon, $50,251, up 0.8 percent. Metro Portland income was $59,168, an increase of 2.7 percent from 2012.

Inequality was relatively high in Washington and Oregon. The Gini Coefficient was in the second highest of four tiers.

The overall takeaway (argh! business jargon!) is that growth remains very slow, too weak to affect inequality. There’s also no connection between median household income and so-called business friendly states. The lowest incomes were in states with low-tax, weak-regulation regimes. They — along with places you would expect such as New York — also had the highest inequality.

Meanwhile, Washington was among the few states with a statistically significant jump in poverty last year, from 13.5 percent to 14.1 percent. Nationally, 15.8 percent of the population had income below the poverty line. The highest rates are in states of the old Confederacy, along with Kentucky, West Virginia, New Mexico and Arizona.

Metro Seattle poverty rose from 11.7 percent to 12.6 percent. Again, below the national average. But a booming economy today, where skills are so unevenly valued, inequality is high and wages are stagnant or even falling, is not a guarantee of reducing poverty.

You can read the entire poverty report here.


Today’s Econ Haiku:

Which way Scotland votes

Cascadia won’t go free

Who would keep the subs?


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments | More in Pacific Northwest economy | Topics: Household income, inequality, poverty

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