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5 surprising facts in US income report

With inflation factored in, Americans now earn roughly as much as they did in 1996.

By MSN Money Partner Sep 15, 2011 10:18AM

This post comes from Seth Fiegerman at partner site MainStreet.


A census report generated much buzz this week largely for its findings that 15.1% of Americans lived in poverty last year, the highest level in more than 15 years. But buried in the report were plenty of other findings that shed light on the financial health of the country's work force, or lack thereof.


MainStreet combed through the report (.pdf file) to find five of the most surprising facts about how the country is living in the aftermath of the recession. Post continues after video.

Americans really need a raise. The median household income last year was $49,445, a decline of more than 6% from 2007, when the Great Recession officially began. In fact, the Census Bureau found that with inflation factored in, Americans now earn roughly as much as they did in 1996.


Homes are more crowded. Confronted with a tough economy, many Americans had little choice but to cut costs by sharing a household with another family or person. There were 21.8 million doubled-up households in spring 2011, an increase of 2 million since spring 2007, just before the recession kicked into gear.


The elderly are doing just fine. While most of the country is struggling to get by, those 65 and older are doing comparatively well. These older households saw incomes increase by 7.5% between 2000 and last year, making this the only age group to enjoy a net wage increase. Likewise, the poverty rate for this age group declined to 9% last year, the lowest in five decades and well below the 13.7% poverty rate for people 18 to 64 and the 22% poverty rate for those under 18. (Are you saving enough for retirement? Try MSN Money's calculator.)


Men are being purged from the labor market. Between 2007 and 2010, the number of men working full time dropped by 6.6 million. By comparison, there were 2.8 million fewer women working full time during this period. Though, as more recent data show, this trend may be changing.


More disabled Americans are without health care. On the whole, the percentage of Americans without health coverage did not change between 2009 and last year, but one group did see a significant shift: those with disabilities. According to the report, there were 2.6 million disabled people between 18 and 64 who were not insured, up from 2.3 million the year before.


More on MainStreet and MSN Money:

Sep 15, 2011 6:24PM
elderly are doing fine?  what planet are you on? no cola for few years meds going up food, utilities everything else. you sound like our leaders who say everything's great as long as it does not effect me an mine, rosy as long as I do not feel it in my tower.Smile come down to our level you may see things a little different.
Sep 16, 2011 6:52AM
When your union strikes, you just outsource the jobs.  Put it in the business college texts books to spread the myth.  I've been saying for over a decade that when you allow companies to make their work to people making a dollar an hour, eventually Americans will be forced to work on the same terms.  The lesson learned over 20 years can be summarized like this - it doesn't matter how cheap a shirt is if you don't have a job to buy it with.  Outsourcing is like a virus because once one company does it, the competition must do it as well in order to compete.  I would call these statistics the tip of the ice burg and a sign of things to come. 
Sep 16, 2011 7:08AM
My belief is now that there is such staggering separation in wealth and the politicians were bought by those few billionaires with their lobbyists and campaign funds this situation called the USA is impossible to fix.  I'm not encouraging this or calling for action, but I think based on the history of the world what will eventually happen is civil war.  I hope the average person with their pea shooters can stand a chance against the nukes of the rich.  I decided against having Children because I don't see a future for them here aside from washing some rich guys car and begging for a handout.  My last name isn't right such as Rockefeller or Kennedy so they would have a pretty bland future.
Sep 16, 2011 7:02AM
I like the country I grew up in when small businesses flourished on main street and things were made in the USA.  When I look at the big trend it's so obvious buying crap from China destroyed small business and American jobs.  Sure it created a lot of billionaires who destroy the country and then pay half of the normal tax rates (not willing to pay for the poverty they created), but for the bulk of us the country really took a hit.  Now all the people they hire to blog and control brains on Fox news will be jumping all over me!
Sep 16, 2011 6:57AM
Part 2 what to do about it - Each year give those companies who sent the bulk of their jobs out of the US 1/2 percent disadvantage and give it straight to the companies who are 100% USA.  Call me a socialist if you want, but that will fix things.  Punish the defectors in the only terms they understand - profit.
Sep 16, 2011 10:40AM

One question I keep asking myself is "why did so many companies move their jobs overseas but did not reduce the prices to the American consumer?"  The answer is corporate greed.  When you buy items or products originated in China (not American companies who moved there) they are cheap and line the shelves of Dollar stores and big box stores.  The American products made in China are in higher end stores and big box stores, but still carry a price tag that would be representative of an American made product.  There is no discount passed on to the consumer.  As long as companies like Apple (others include LL Bean)  can make an iphone for $17 and Americans are willing to pay $300, those jobs will never come back. How many iphone users know how many Chinese workers committed suicide because the companies pushed them so hard to meet production quotas for the demand generated by the new release of gen 4 that companies in China had to hang nets above the 2nd floor to deter would be jumpers? Americans need jobs to get raises.  Why is everyone in this country so passive. The majority is sitting back and letting things happen. They grumble amongst themselves but not against the government that allows and even makes these things happen. I am only one person, but I write letters and send e-mails to all my state reps, but everyone needs to make themselves heard.  Unfortunately poverty will continue to grow in America. I agree that companies that out source and relocate any jobs should be penalized and companies create and keep jobs in the US should be rewarded.   I am one of those doubled up household and soon to be tripled. I have two sons with families one has already come back and the other is on his way. It is heart breaking watching your children struggle.

 I fear for my grandchildren more.

Sep 16, 2011 11:21AM
The way I see it, is Americans have no one but themselves to blame, for the current economy. Many of these Americans are one issue voters. All a candidate for political office needs to do or say to get there votes, is say they are pro gun ownership, anti abortion, for school prayer, and have a photo op, showing the candidate at church. In the past elections, just those actions, are good enough to get fifty percent of the American votes.
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