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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Census Bureau updates us on family income.

According the the Census Bureau, the median income of households in the US fell by 3.6 between 2007 and 2008 (to $50,303 from $52,163). This need not be all that surprising during a recession; in earlier recessions, the peak-to-trough declines were about this large, or larger (down 3.5% in the 2001 recession, down 3.9% in the 1991 recession, down 6.0% in the early '80s recession, down 5.7% in the 1973-75 recession).

What's more noteworthy is that median household income is about 2% less in 2008 than it was in 1998, as David Leonhardt notes in his New York Times blog. He concludes that median family income has not declined over any 10-year period at least since the 1930s. What needs to be added to this is that average household income has continued to rise, almost entirely because of income increases among the top 1% of households. This is also apparently unprecedented.

There's an immense amount of information in the Census Bureau report, including this little gem: The median annual (labor) earnings of full-time, year-round, employed male workers is slightly lower now than it was in 1973...36 years of no growth in median earnings of men...Women's earnings have grown during this time period, by about 25%, so the ratio of female to male earings (for full-time, year-round, employed workers) is now at an historic high--women earn 77% as much as men. But even women's (median) earnings have grown at much less than 1% per year.

More. While 13.2% of the population is in a household in which the income falls below the provery threshhold, 19% of the children under the age of 18 live in such households; people over age 65 are less likely to experience poverty-level incomes than are people under age 65.

And we could go on...


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