U.S. household income falls for fourth year

Courtesy: Associated Press
Courtesy: Associated Press

WASHINGTON and HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - New Census data shows U.S. median household income has fallen for a fourth year.

Median household income, dialing out inflation, fell 1.5 percent from 2010 to 2011 to reach $50,100 nationwide. In real dollars, removing inflation, the median U.S. household has less annual income now than it did in 1999.

The Census Bureau said 15 percent of Americans in 2011 lived below the official poverty line - 46 million people, or one in six - but the poverty rate stopped getting worse, a sign that extended jobless benefits helped.

The information shows a key aspect of the slow recovery from the 2008 market crash: the lack of significant income growth by many people who never lost their jobs.

In Hawaii this was seen in thousands of hotel workers who technically never became unemployed but suffered a loss of hours until the tourism rebound accelerated this year.

Household income counts regular income - wages, jobless checks and Social Security payments. It does not include food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid payments or capital gains.

The Census Bureau separately reported Thursday that uninsured Americans fell from 16.3 percent in 2010 to 15.7 percent in 2011, after health care reform made it possible for parents to insure their children to the age of 26. Hawaii has a lower number of insured residents than most states because of a law requiring many employers to provide health care, which spreads health costs across a greater number of premiums and reduces the average increase in such payments.

In other economic news Thursday:

-The Commerce Department report a seven-tenths increase in July business inventories, more than erasing a June decline, while sales fell slightly.

-The high court of Germany upheld the constitutionality of the European bailout plan provided German lawmakers are consulted before any increase in German funding for the program.

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