July 22, 2017

U.S. Median Income Rises, but Is Still 6% Below Its 2007 Peak

The study, issued on Wednesday by two former Census Bureau officials, suggests why many people remain glum even though the economy is growing and unemployment has declined.

Although inflation-adjusted median annual household income rose to $52,100 in June, from its recent trough of $50,700 in August 2011, it remained $2,400 lower — a 4.4 percent decline — than in June 2009, when the recession ended. This drop, combined with the 1.8 percent decline that occurred during the recession, leaves median household income 6.1 percent — or $3,400 — below its level in December 2007, when the economic slump began.

Since the end of the recession, the study said, household income has declined for all but a few population groups. Some of the largest percentage declines occurred for groups whose income was already well below the median, like African-Americans, Southerners, people who did not attend college, and households headed by people under age 25.

“Groups with low incomes tended to have steeper declines in income,” said Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, a colleague at Sentier Research, which specializes in analyzing household economic data.

Households headed by people ages 65 to 74 were the only group in the study that experienced a statistically significant increase in post-recession income, helped both by the continued increase in Social Security benefits and by the decision of some older workers to remain in the work force or re-enter it.

The figures, adjusted for changes in the cost of living over time, include income before taxes and exclude capital gains. The number of households with income above the median is the same as the number below it.

The data offers a potential preview of the official Census Bureau statistics on income and poverty for 2012, scheduled to be released next month. The Sentier data is based on the Current Population Survey, a monthly government survey of about 50,000 households. The researchers used the same definition of income as the Census Bureau uses in its annual report on income and poverty. The two sets of estimates have shown broadly similar trends in recent years.

Because recessions rarely match up perfectly with calendar years, the annual census data often does not allow for precise comparisons with the start and end of downturns. The most recent downturn ended in June 2009, according to a committee of academic economists widely considered to the arbiter of the business cycle.

The economy has been growing since 2009, but more slowly and inconsistently than many Americans would like and many economists and policy makers had predicted. President Obama has made the economy’s condition his main focus this summer, promising new efforts to encourage economic growth, including a series of proposals on higher education that he is expected to announce Thursday. While taking credit for some improvement in the economy, he has acknowledged that many Americans have yet to see the benefits.

“We’ve got more work to do,” Mr. Obama said last month at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. “Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent. The average C.E.O. has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009. The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999.”

In the recession and its aftermath, many people went back to school, earning associate or bachelor’s degrees. Such credentials have helped, the new data shows, but they have been no guarantee against loss of income.

Households headed by people with only a high school diploma have seen their post-recession income decline by 9.3 percent, to $39,300 in June of this year, the report said. For households headed by people with an associate degree, median income declined by 8.6 percent in those four years, to $56,400. And among households headed by people with a bachelor’s degree or more, median income declined by 6.5 percent, to $84,700.

Since the end of the recession, the report said, income has declined by 3.6 percent for non-Hispanic white households, to $58,000, and by 4.5 percent for Hispanic households, to $40,979. Those changes were smaller than the 10.9 percent decline, to $33,500, for non-Hispanic black households, whose economic problems are likely to be a focus when Mr. Obama speaks next week on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Median income for households headed by people 65 to 74 years old increased by 5.1 percent, to $43,000, even though in many cases the head of the household was retired. By comparison, median income for households headed by people under age 25 fell 9.6 percent in the last four years, to $31,300.

Median income declined by 4.5 percent for households headed by a person 25 to 34 years old, by 5.7 percent for those 35 to 44, by 2.5 percent for those 45 to 54, and by 7 percent for those 55 to 64. The report found no significant change for households headed by a person 75 or older.

Median income declined for households in three of the four major geographic regions, with the South showing the largest decline and the Midwest reporting no statistically significant change.

From June 2009 to June of this year, household income declined by 6.2 percent in the South, to $47,900; by 5.2 percent in the West, to $56,400; and by 3.9 percent in the Northeast, to $56,800.

By contrast, household income in the Midwest, $52,600, was not significantly different from what it was four years ago. Some parts of the Midwest have been helped by the natural-gas boom, while others have benefited from a modest manufacturing rebound in the last few years.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/us/politics/us-median-income-rises-but-is-still-6-below-its-2007-peak.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Median Income Rises, but Is Still 6% Below Level at Start of Recession in ’07

The study, issued on Wednesday by two former Census Bureau officials, suggests why many people remain glum even though the economy is growing and unemployment has declined.

Although median annual household income rose to $52,100 in June, from its recent inflation-adjusted trough of $50,700 in August 2011, it remained $2,400 lower — a 4.4 percent decline — than in June 2009, when the recession ended. This drop, combined with the 1.8 percent decline that occurred during the recession, leaves median household income 6.1 percent — or $3,400 — below its level in December 2007, when the economic slump began.

Since the end of the recession, the study said, household income has declined for all but a few population groups. Some of the largest percentage declines occurred for groups whose income was already well below the median, like African-Americans, Southerners, people who did not attend college, and households headed by people under age 25.

“Groups with low incomes tended to have steeper declines in income,” said Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, a colleague at Sentier Research, which specializes in analyzing household economic data.

Households headed by people ages 65 to 74 were the only group in the study that experienced a statistically significant increase in post-recession income, helped perhaps by the decision of some older workers to remain in the work force or re-enter it.

The figures, adjusted for changes in the cost of living over time, include income before taxes and exclude capital gains. The number of households with income above the median is the same as the number below it.

The data offers a potential preview of the official Census Bureau statistics on income and poverty for 2012, scheduled to be released next month. The Sentier data is based on the Current Population Survey, a monthly government survey of about 50,000 households. The researchers used the same definition of income as the Census Bureau uses in its annual report on income and poverty. The two sets of estimates have shown broadly similar trends in recent years.

Because recessions rarely match up with calendar years, the annual census data often does not allow for precise comparisons with the start and end of downturns. The most recent downturn ended in June 2009, according to a panel of academic economists widely considered to the arbiter of the business cycle.

The economy has been growing since 2009, but more slowly and inconsistently than many Americans would like and many economists and policy makers had predicted. President Obama has made the economy’s condition his main focus this summer, promising new efforts to encourage economic growth, including a series of proposals on higher education that he is expected to announce Thursday. While taking credit for some improvement in the economy, he has acknowledged that many Americans have yet to see the benefits.

“We’ve got more work to do,” Mr. Obama said last month at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. “Even though our businesses are creating new jobs and have broken record profits, nearly all the income gains of the past 10 years have continued to flow to the top 1 percent. The average C.E.O. has gotten a raise of nearly 40 percent since 2009. The average American earns less than he or she did in 1999.”

In the recession and its aftermath, many people went back to school, earning associate or bachelor’s degrees. Such credentials have helped, the new data shows, but they have been no guarantee against loss of income.

Households headed by people with only a high school diploma have seen their post-recession income decline by 9.3 percent, to $39,300 in June of this year, the report said. For households headed by people with an associate degree, median income declined by 8.6 percent in those four years, to $56,400. And among households headed by people with a bachelor’s degree or more, median income declined by 6.5 percent, to $84,700.

Since the end of the recession, the report said, income has declined by 3.6 percent for non-Hispanic white households, to $58,000, and by 4.5 percent for Hispanic households, to $41,000. Those changes were smaller than the 10.9 percent decline, to $33,500, for non-Hispanic black households, whose economic problems are likely to be a focus when Mr. Obama speaks next week on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.

Median income for households headed by people ages 65 to 74 increased by 5.1 percent, to $43,000, even though in many cases the head of the household was retired. By comparison, median income for households headed by people under age 25 fell 9.6 percent, to $31,300.

Median income declined by 4.5 percent for households headed by a person 25 to 34 years old, by 5.7 percent for those 35 to 44, by 2.5 percent for those 45 to 54, and by 7 percent for those 55 to 64. The report found no significant change for households headed by a person 75 or older.

Median income declined for households in three of four geographic regions, with the South showing the largest decline and the Midwest reporting no statistically significant change.

From June 2009 to June of this year, household income declined by 6.2 percent in the South, to $47,900; by 5.2 percent in the West, to $56,400; and by 3.9 percent in the Northeast, to $56,800.

By contrast, household income in the Midwest, $52,600, was not significantly different from what it was four years ago. Some parts of the Midwest have been helped by the natural-gas boom, while others have benefited from a modest manufacturing rebound in the last few years.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/22/us/politics/us-median-income-rises-but-is-still-6-below-its-2007-peak.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Recession Officially Over, U.S. Incomes Kept Falling

Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession — from December 2007 to June 2009 — household income fell 3.2 percent.

The finding helps explain why Americans’ attitudes toward the economy, the country’s direction and its political leaders have continued to sour even as the economy has been growing. Unhappiness and anger have come to dominate the political scene, including the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign.

President Obama recently called the economic situation “an emergency,” and over the weekend he assailed Congressional Republicans for opposing his jobs bill, which includes tax cuts that would raise take-home pay. Republicans blame Mr. Obama for the slump, saying he has issued a blizzard of regulations and promised future tax increases that have hurt business and consumer confidence.

Those arguments may be heard repeatedly this week, as the Senate begins debating the jobs bill. The full bill — a mix of tax cuts, public works, unemployment benefits and other items, costing $447 billion — is unlikely to pass, but individual parts seem to have a significant chance.

The full 9.8 percent drop in income from the start of the recession to this June — the most recent month in the study — appears to be the largest in several decades, according to other Census Bureau data. Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, called the decline “a significant reduction in the American standard of living.”

That reduction occurred even though the unemployment rate fell slightly, to 9.2 percent in June compared with 9.5 percent two years earlier. Two main forces appear to have held down pay: the number of people outside the labor force — neither working nor looking for work — has risen; and the hourly pay of employed people has failed to keep pace with inflation, as the prices of oil products and many foods have jumped.

During the recession itself, by contrast, wage gains outpaced inflation.

One reason pay has stagnated is that many people who lost their jobs in the recession — and remained out of work for months — have taken pay cuts in order to be hired again. In a separate study, Henry S. Farber, an economics professor at Princeton, found that people who lost jobs in the recession and later found work again made an average of 17.5 percent less than they had in their old jobs.

“As a labor economist, I do not think the recession has ended,” Mr. Farber said. “Job losers are having more trouble than ever before finding full-time jobs.”

Mr. Farber added that this downturn was “fundamentally different” from most previous ones. Historically, other economists say, financial crises and debt-caused bubbles have led to deeper, more protracted downturns.

Mr. Green and Mr. Coder said the persistently high rate of unemployment and the long duration of unemployment helped explain the decline in income during the recovery.

In the recession, the average length of time a person who lost a job was unemployed increased to 24.1 weeks in June 2009, from 16.6 weeks in December 2007, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since the end of the recession, that figure has continued to increase, reaching 40.5 weeks in September, the longest in more than 60 years.

The new study by Mr. Green and Mr. Coder is based on monthly census surveys, rather than the annual data that appeared in last month’s census report on income. The monthly figures allow researchers to measure income changes more precisely during a recession or a recovery and provide more current information. The annual report is based on surveys conducted early in the following year, and people sometimes confuse how much money they are making at the time of the survey with how much they made the previous year. Additionally, recessions usually do not line up with a calendar year.

A committee of academic economists at the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private group widely considered the arbiter of the business cycle, judged that the most recent recession began in December 2007. The bureau defines a recession as a significant, broad-based decline in economic activity.

The economists said the recession ended in June 2009. In every quarter since then, the economy has grown.

Some economists see signs that the United States may be in or about to enter another recession, though the evidence is mixed.

In their new study, Mr. Green and Mr. Coder found that income dropped more, in percentage terms, for some groups already making less, a factor that they say may have contributed to rising income inequality.

From June 2007 to June of this year, they said, median annual household income declined by 7.8 percent for non-Hispanic whites, to $56,320, and by 6.8 percent for Hispanics, to $39,901. For blacks, household income declined 9.2 percent, to $31,784.

Mr. Green and Mr. Coder, who both worked at the Census Bureau for more than 25 years, found other income changes over the four-year period examined.

For example, income, after adjustment for inflation, declined fairly substantially for households headed by people under age 62, but it rose 4.7 percent for those headed by people 65 to 74, many of whom are not in the labor force. The change was negligible for those 62 to 64.

The type of employment also made a difference. Real median annual income declined to a similar degree for households headed by private-sector wage workers (4.3 percent) and government-sector workers (3.9 percent), but fell much more for the self-employed (12.3 percent).

Family households generally had larger declines in real income than other households. Men living alone showed a bigger decline than women living alone.

Education levels were also a factor. Median annual income declined most for households headed by someone with an associate’s degree, dropping 14 percent, to $53,195, in the four-year period that ended in June 2011, the report said.

For households headed by people who had not completed high school, median income declined by 7.9 percent, to $25,157. For those with a bachelor’s degree or more, income declined by 6.8 percent, to $82,846.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=bbe8245c5c3936f87941de68fd48cbd4