As Economic Recovery Stalls, Incomes Slide, Poverty Rises

income slipping with economy in a stallIf you're feeling poorer than you did a decade ago, you're not alone. A broad swath of Americans are earning less than they did just a few years back, the federal government says.

The Great Recession and subsequent anemic recovery have taken their toll on U.S. households, which saw incomes fall 2.3 percent last year to a median $49,445 (after adjusting for inflation), the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

That's roughly where median household incomes were in 1996, The Wall Street Journal notes.

Since 2007 -- before the collapse of the housing market -- real median household income has declined 6.4 percent and is 7.1 percent below the peak that occurred in 1999, prior to the 2001 recession, the government said.

The latest snapshot of household incomes reveals that the stagnation that has affected so many U.S. households for years has crept up the economic ladder, with many more people feeling the pain of a stalled economy.

As incomes slipped, poverty rose, with more than 46.2 million Americans residing below the poverty line in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009, a 6 percent increase. For families of four, poverty is defined as income of less than $22,315 a year.

The uptick in the number of impoverished Americans is the fourth straight year of increase and is the largest number since poverty estimates were first published 52 years ago, the agency noted. The poor make up 15.1 percent of the population, the largest percentage since 1993.

The data also show that since the onset of the Great Recession men have been affected in greater numbers than women. The ranks of men working full time has shrunk by 6.6 million since 2007, compared to a drop of 2.8 million among women.

The number of Americans covered by health insurance plans last year was statistically no different than in 2009, the Census Bureau noted. Although, as The Huffington Post points out, some 50 million Americans have no health coverage.


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Filed under: Employment News

David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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