This article was last updated on September 13
The US Census bureau collects and publishes the most timely and accurate income data on an annual basis, which make for interesting reading from a personal finance perspective. Income is primarily earnings from a job, but includes Social Security payments, pensions, child support, public assistance, annuities, money derived from rental properties, interest and dividends.
During the 2009 calendar year (latest available data), median household income totaled $49,800, which was unchanged previous year. Median is the half way point, so half of households had income more than this amount, and half less. Household income indicates the amount of money everyone 15 years and older living in the same household collectively brought in that year. Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, median household income has declined 4.2 percent (from $51,965) and is 5.0 percent below the median household income peak ($52,388) that occurred in 1999
Income by Gender
However, while household income remain unchanged over last year, the census bureau found big differences by the gender of workers. Among people who worked year-round and full-time in 2009, men earned a median of $47,100 and women $36,300 or 77 cents for every dollar earned by men. So clearly there is still an income disparity based on gender. But per the graphic, the gap is closing and many experts predict that sometime between 2030-2040, average income levels should be the same.
Despite the overall disparity one positive was that earnings actually increased between 2008 and 2009 for both sexes.
Income By Race
Another variable that creates income disparity is race. As the graph below shows, Asians continued to have the highest average household income that stayed flat during the recession years in 2008 and 2009. The Hispanic race continues to increase their income levels, and are almost $6,000 above the much larger “black” racial group.
The official poverty rate in 2009 was 14.3 percent—up from 13.2 percent in 2008. This was the the highest poverty rate since 1994 but was 8.1 percentage points lower than the poverty rate in 1959. 43.6 million people were in poverty, up from 39.8 million in 2008—the third consecutive annual increase in the number of people in poverty. Poverty increased the most for children under the age of 18 (from 19.0 percent and 14.1 million in 2008 to 20.7 percent and 15.5 million in 2009). Children comprised 35.5 percent of people in poverty but only 24.5 percent of the total population.
What are your thoughts on the above graphics and trends?