CENSUS BUREAU: 2011 Household Income Declines, Poverty Rate Stays Same and Health Insurance Coverage Increases

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CENSUS BUREAU: 2011 Household Income Declines, Poverty Rate Stays Same and Health Insurance Coverage Increases

The U.S. Census Bureau announced Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012 that in 2011, median household income declined, the poverty rate was not statistically different from the previous year and the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

Real median household income in the United States in 2011 was $50,054, a 1.5 percent decline from the 2010 median and the second consecutive annual drop.

The nation's official poverty rate in 2011 was 15.0 percent, with 46.2 million people in poverty. After three consecutive years of increases, neither the poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the 2010 estimates.

The number of people without health insurance coverage declined from 50.0 million in 2010 to 48.6 million in 2011, as did the percentage without coverage - from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011.

These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2012 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC):

Income

  • Median family household income declined by 1.7 percent in real terms between 2010 and 2011 to $62,273. The change in the median income of nonfamily households was not statistically significant.
  • In 2011, real median household income was 8.1 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession, and was 8.9 percent lower than the median household income peak that occurred in 1999. The two percentages are not statistically different from one another.

Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to people reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

  • Real median income declined for non-Hispanic white and black households between 2010 and 2011, while the changes for Asian and Hispanic households were not statistically significant. Real median incomes for each race and Hispanic-origin group have not yet recovered to their pre-2001 recession all-time highs. (See Table A.)

Regions

  • The West experienced a decline in real median household income between 2010 and 2011, while the changes for the remaining regions were not statistically significant. In 2011, the Northeast and West had the highest median household incomes among the regions. These incomes for the Northeast and West were not statistically different from one another. (See Table A.)

Nativity

  • The real median incomes of native-born households and households maintained by a foreign-born naturalized citizen declined between 2010 and 2011. The change in the median income of households maintained by a noncitizen was not statistically significant. (See Table A.)

Earnings

  • In 2011, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($37,118) was 77 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($48,202) ─ not statistically different from the 2010 ratio. Real median earnings of both men and women who worked full time, year-round declined by 2.5 percent between 2010 and 2011. The rates of decline for men and women were not statistically different from one another.
  • The number of men working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.7 million and the number of corresponding women increased by 0.5 million between 2010 and 2011.

Income Inequality

  • Based on the Gini index, income inequality increased by 1.6 percent between 2010 and 2011; this represents the first time the Gini index has shown an annual increase since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality. The Gini index was 0.477 in 2011. (The Gini index is a measure of household income inequality; zero represents perfect income equality and 1 perfect inequality.)
  • Income inequality also increased between 2010 and 2011 when measured by shares of aggregate household income received by quintiles. The aggregate share of income declined for the middle and fourth quintiles. The share of aggregate income increased 1.6 percent for the highest quintile and within the highest quintile, the share of aggregate income for the top 5 percent increased 4.9 percent. The changes in the shares of aggregate income for the lowest two quintiles were not statistically significant.

Poverty

  • In 2011, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.8 percent and 9.5 million, respectively, both not statistically different from the 2010 estimates.
  • In 2011, 6.2 percent of married-couple families, 31.2 percent of families with a female householder and 16.1 percent of families with a male householder lived in poverty. Neither the poverty rates nor the estimates of the number of families in poverty for these three family types showed any statistically significant change between 2010 and 2011.

Thresholds

  • As defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2011 was $23,021. (See <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html> for the complete set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition.)

Sex

  • The poverty rate for males decreased between 2010 and 2011, from 14.0 percent to 13.6 percent, while the poverty rate for females was 16.3 percent, not statistically different from the 2010 estimate.

Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to people reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

  • The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was lower in 2011 than it was for other racial groups. Table B details 2011 poverty rates and numbers in poverty, as well as changes since 2010 in these measures, for race groups and Hispanics. Among all of these groups, only Hispanics experienced a decline in their poverty rate.

Shared Households

  • Shared households are defined as households that include at least one "additional" adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder. In spring 2007, prior to the recession, such households totaled 19.7 million. By spring 2012, the number had increased to 22.3 million and their percentage of all households rose by 1.4 percentage points from 17.0 percent to 18.4 percent. There was no change in household sharing between 2011 and 2012.
  • In spring 2012, 9.7 million young adults age 25-34 (23.6 percent) were additional adults in someone else's household. The number and percentage were both unchanged from 2011.
  • It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of household sharing on overall poverty rates. Young adults age 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 9.0 percent, but if their poverty status were determined using only their own income, 43.7 percent had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65.

Age

  • In 2011, 13.7 percent of people 18 to 64 (26.5 million) were in poverty compared with 8.7 percent of people 65 and older (3.6 million) and 21.9 percent of children under 18 (16.1 million).
  • None of the above age groups experienced a statistically significant change in the number or rates of people in poverty between 2010 and 2011.

Nativity

  • The 2011 poverty rate for the native-born population was not statistically different from 2010, while the poverty rate rose for naturalized U.S. citizens and declined for noncitizens. Table B details 2011 poverty rates and the numbers in poverty, as well as changes since 2010 in these measures, by nativity.

Regions

  • The South was the only region to show changes in both the poverty rate and the number in poverty. The poverty rate fell from 16.8 percent to 16.0 percent, while the number in poverty fell from 19.1 million to 18.4 million. In 2011, the poverty rates and the number in poverty for the Northeast, Midwest and the West were not statistically different from 2010. The poverty rate in the South was not statistically different from the rate in the West. In addition, the Northeast poverty rate was not statistically different from the rate in the Midwest. (See Table B.)

Health Insurance Coverage

  • The number of people with health insurance increased to 260.2 million in 2011 from 256.6 million in 2010, as did the percentage of people with health insurance (84.3 percent in 2011, 83.7 percent in 2010).
  • The percentage of people covered by private health insurance in 2011 was not statistically different from 2010, at 63.9 percent. This was the first time in the last 10 years that the rate of private health insurance coverage has not decreased. The percentage covered by employment-based health insurance in 2011 was not statistically different from 2010, at 55.1 percent.
  • The percentage of people covered by government health insurance increased from 31.2 percent to 32.2 percent. The percentage covered by Medicaid increased from 15.8 percent in 2010 to 16.5 percent in 2011. The percentage covered by Medicare also rose over the period, from 14.6 percent to 15.2 percent. The percentage covered by Medicaid in 2011 was higher than the percentage covered by Medicare.
  • In 2011, 9.7 percent of children under 19 (7.6 million) were without health insurance. Neither estimate is significantly different from the corresponding 2010 estimate. The uninsured rate also remained statistically unchanged for those age 26 to 34 and people age 45 to 64. It declined, however, for people age 19 to 25, age 35 to 44 and those age 65 and older.
  • The uninsured rate for children in poverty (13.8 percent) was higher than the rate for all children (9.4 percent).
  • In 2011, the uninsured rates decreased as household income increased from 25.4 percent for those in households with annual income less than $25,000 to 7.8 percent in households with income of $75,000 or more.

Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to those reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

  • The uninsured rate and number of uninsured decreased between 2010 and 2011 for non-Hispanic whites and blacks. For Hispanics, both measures in 2011 were not statistically different from 2010. (See Table C.)

Nativity

  • The proportion of the foreign-born population without health insurance in 2011 was about two-and-a-half times that of the native-born population. The uninsured rate declined for the native-born population between 2010 and 2011, while the 2011 rate was not statistically different from the 2010 rate for naturalized citizens and noncitizens. Table C details the 2011 uninsured rate and the number of uninsured, as well as changes since 2010 in these measures, by nativity.

Regions

The Northeast had the lowest uninsured rate in 2011. Between 2010 and 2011, the uninsured rate decreased for the Northeast and South, while there was no statistical difference for the remaining two regions. Similarly, the number of uninsured declined in the Northeast and the South, while there were no statistically significant changes for the other two regions. (See Table C.)

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The poverty estimates released today compare the official poverty thresholds to money income before taxes, not including the value of noncash benefits. The Census Bureau's statistical experts, with assistance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and in consultation with other appropriate agencies and outside experts, have developed a Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) to serve as an additional indicator of economic well-being by incorporating additional items such as tax payments and work expenses in its family resource estimates. It does not replace the official poverty measure and will not be used to determine eligibility for government programs.

Both the Census Bureau and the interagency technical working group which helped develop the SPM consider the measure to be a work in progress and expect that there will be improvements to the statistic over time. See Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2011 for more information. Last November, the Census Bureau published the first set of estimates for the SPM. SPM estimates for 2011 will be published in November 2012.

State and Local Estimates from the American Community Survey

Next week, the Census Bureau will release single-year estimates for 2011 of median household income, poverty and health insurance coverage for all states and counties, places and other geographic units with populations of 65,000 or more from the American Community Survey (ACS), along with estimates for numerous social, economic and housing characteristics including language, education, the commute to work, employment, mortgage status and rent. Businesses use the ACS to create jobs, plan for the future, establish new business and grow our economy. Because the ACS provides a wide range of important statistics on housing, social and economic characteristics for all communities in the country, governments at all levels use the ACS for policy making and to determine where to provide services.

The Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement is subject to sampling and nonsampling errors. All comparisons made in the report have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted.

For additional information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates for the CPS, visit <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/p60_243sa.pdf>.

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