Trends

Median income and poverty rate hold steady, Census Bureau finds, NY Times—Sept. 17

Last year, for the first time in half a decade, median household income did not fall and poverty did not rise, the Census Bureau said in the release of its major annual report on poverty, insurance, and earnings.

The report depicts an economy that has failed to improve the lot of most households and left about 46.5 million Americans living in poverty in 2012.

“The poverty and income numbers are a metaphor for the entire economy,” said Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution. “Everything’s on hold, but at a bad level.” He added, “Don’t expect things to change until the American economy begins to generate more jobs.”

Median household income, adjusted for inflation, halted its fall at $51,017, about where it was the previous year. That is down about 9 percent from an inflation-adjusted peak of $56,080 in 1999, though the economy has grown by about 28 percent since then. Income is also down about 8.3 percent since 2007, when the economy started to contract.

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