A Deeper Look at the Income Estimates

Written by: Ed Welniak

For the second consecutive year, household income declined. Between 2010 and 2011, real (inflation adjusted) median household income fell by 1.5 percent, and the median has declined by a total of 8.1 percent since 2007. Income is 8.9 percent lower than its 1999 peak.

These results, however, were not uniform across all groups. Asian households and Hispanic-origin households showed no change in income between 2010 and 2011, as did nonfamily households, households in the Northeast, Midwest and South, and households outside principal cities and metro areas.

What may be holding household income down? One contributing factor may be the increase of typically lower-income households. For example, between 2011 and 2012, the number of elderly households grew by 1.1 million to 26.8 million households, a 4.3 percent increase. Since the median income of elderly households is much lower than the median of nonelderly households, the growing number of elderly households will tend to lower overall median household income over time.

Earnings were also down between 2010 and 2011, though the number of workers with earnings increased by nearly 1 million. Real earnings of year-round, full-time workers declined by 2.5 percent for both men and women between 2010 and 2011. This decline was coupled with an increase in the number of year-round, full-time workers of 1.7 million men and 0.5 million women.

To access the Census Bureau’s income statistics, visit <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/index.html>.

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One Response to A Deeper Look at the Income Estimates

  1. Thoms Lawler says:

    I have a question. The Decennial Census estimate for the number of households on April 1, 2010 was 116.716 million, while the CPS/ASEC “estimate” for March, 2010 was not based on Census 2010 population controls, was 117.538 million. There were fairly sizable differences in the age distribution of householders. In last year’s report the March 2011 CPS/ASEC household “estimate,” also not based on Census 2010 population controls, was 118.682 million.

    In today’s report the March 2011 CPS/ASEC household estimate was revised (based on Census 2010 population controls) UPWARD to 119.927 million, an astonishing 3.211 million higher than the official Census 2010 estimate for April 1, 2010. So (1) why is the CPS/ASEC estimate so much higher than the decennial Census results would suggest; and (2) why doesn’t Census “control” the CPS/ASEC household estimates (both total and by age group) to decennial Census results?

    In today’s report, the March 2011 CPS/ASEC “estimate” of the number of US households incorpor

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