Saturday, August 06, 2011

Waiting for The Dough

It seems like we've been waiting forever for an update of the economic status of American households, making do with 2009 numbers long past their usefulness. The Census Bureau is scheduled to release the 2010 data on September 13--several weeks later than has been the custom. These numbers will provide us with the official income statistics for households and families, men and women.

We have a pretty good idea of what the numbers will show, but still it would be nice to have some facts to back up our extrapolations. Here's what we know right now...

Between 2000 and 2009, median household income fell 5 percent--to $49,777, after adjusting for inflation. Expect to see the decline deepen with the 2010 numbers, but not as much as you might expect for two reasons: the baby-boom generation is in the peak-earning age groups, boosting the median; and people aged 55 or older are remaining in the labor force longer, boosting the median. Between 2000 and 2009, the median income of households headed by 55-to-64-year-olds climbed 2 percent, and that of households headed by people aged 65 or older climbed 9 percent. In harsh contrast, the median income of households headed by people under age 55 fell by a substantial 9 to 11 percent.

According to an Economic Mobility Project poll, taken in March, the 43 percent plurality of Americans say their income was lower in 2010 than in 2007. Only 18 percent say their income was higher. So the 2010 income statistics are likely to confirm what we already know--it's grim out there.

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