According to data released by the U.S. Census on September 10, real median household income in the United States fell by 3.6% between 2007 and 2008, the largest single-year decline in the last 40 years. This dramatic decline from, $52,163 to $50,303, completely erased the limited gains made in the previous decade. Hispanic households saw a 5.6% drop in median family income, the steepest decline among the racial and ethnic groups detailed in the report.
Much of the impact of this decline was felt at the bottom of the income distribution, among the poorest households. Between 2007 and 2008, the income of the poorest 10% of households declined by 3.7% while the richest 10% saw a decline of 2.1%. As a result, the nation’s official poverty rate in 2008 rose to 13.2% from 12.5% in 2007. This represents a 6.9% increase in the number of people in poverty. The number of people in deep poverty, defined as residing in households earning less than half of the poverty threshold, rose even more quickly, by 7.7%. This represents an increase of 1.2 million people in deep poverty to more than 17 million, nearly half of the 39.8 million people in poverty in 2008. The poverty rate for children under 18 years old rose to 19%, up from 18% in 2007.
The report also provides data on health insurance, finding that the percentage of people without health insurance in 2008 was not statistically different from 2007, though there was a statistical decline in private insurance and an uptick in government provided insurance. The percentage of people covered by private health insurance was 66.7%, down from 67.5% percent in 2007 while the percentage of people covered by government health insurance programs increased to 29% from 27.8 %.
The report, Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008 can be found at www.census.gov/prod/2009pubs/p60-236.pdf.
A variety of resources including state-by-state estimates (Table POV46) can be found here www.census.gov/hhes/www/cpstables/032009/pov/toc.htm.