Americans Got Poorer in 2010, Census Bureau Reports

×
CensusThe Great Recession officially ended in mid-2009, but a recent Census Bureau report shows that, for the average American family, the first full post-recession year only brought increased misery. According to Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010, household incomes plummeted last year, while the number of people living in poverty rose sharply.

The numbers put a concrete measure on the so-called "jobless recovery" that left more than 9% of the American workforce unemployed throughout 2010. According to the Census Bureau, the number of people living in poverty rose for the fourth year in a row in 2010: Since 2007, it's up by 2.6%.

Between 2009 and 2010, the rate rose from 14.3% to 15.1% as more than 2.6 million people slipped below the poverty line. By the end of the year, 46.2 million people were officially impoverished. In raw numbers, this translates into the largest population of poor since the Census Bureau began tracking the data in 1958. Looking at the numbers as a percentage of the population, the outlook is slightly less dire: Rather than a 53-year high, 2010's numbers only represent a 27-year high: Back in 1993, an equally large percentage of the country was living in poverty.

High Unemployment, Low Wages

While unemployment numbers have remained high, they have also remained relatively constant, which raises a simple question: If the number of unemployed people hasn't significantly risen in the past year, why has the number of people living in poverty gone up so sharply? One possibility is that the huge mass of unemployed workers has helped drive down wages and made minimum wage, part-time, and temporary jobs look increasingly attractive. Not surprisingly, the U-6 unemployment numbers, which measure the "officially" unemployed as well as part-timers and those who are "marginally attached to the employment force," have consistently remained high too, topping 16.7% in August 2010.

This has had a profound effect on the median household income in America. Between 2009 and 2010, it dropped by 2.3% to $49,445. And, like the increase in the number of people living in poverty, this decline isn't an isolated single-year change: Since 2007, household incomes have fallen by a staggering 6.4%.

But the rising numbers of unemployed and underemployed have also changed the way Americans live, leading to an increase in "doubled-up households." Defined as "households that include at least one 'additional' adult ... who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder," their numbers have risen sharply over the last four years. Between 2007 and 2010, more than 2 million families have doubled up as unemployed or underemployed workers have moved in with families and friends. Today, 18.3% of American households are doubled up.

This statistic reflects a significant increase in recent college graduates who are moving back in with their parents. Before the recession, 11.8% of new college grads lived at home; by 2010, that number had risen to 14.2%. In some ways, this doubling-up may actually have lowered poverty rates: According to the Census, young adults aged 25-34 who lived with their parents had an official poverty rate of 8.4%. Living on their own, 45.3% would have been below the poverty line.

The report's link between high poverty and high unemployment adds more weight to a point that was already crystal clear: Improving the lot of America's workers is largely a matter of creating jobs. But with almost 1 in 6 Americans now living below the poverty line and Washington caught in a partisan deadlock, it remains to be seen if America can put its people back to work.



Bruce Watson is a senior features writer for DailyFinance. You can reach him by e-mail at bruce.watson@teamaol.com, or follow him on Twitter at @bruce1971.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

How to Avoid Financial Scams

Avoid getting duped by financial scams.

View Course »

Understanding Credit Scores

Credit scores matter -- learn how to improve your score.

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

404 Comments

Filter by:
Wealthyconnect.com

------meeting a hot and mature lady.just check my name!Honey!!
Join free!!!

January 17 2012 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Njrng

My friend just met a rich man on --SeekSugarDad.C óM---
I am a lawyer,young and beautiful.and now I am seeking a good man who can give me real love , so i got a username Romance'Lover on
---SeekSugarDad.C óM-----it's where for men and women looking for companionship for a fabulous lifestyle, maybe you want to try out :)
--------Obama's legacy (only need one): Destroy the US economy and make it a third world country. Hey, he's right on schedule.

September 28 2011 at 4:22 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Robert Leonetti

DA.... OF COURSE AMERICANS GOT POORER...... WE HAVE BAD ECONOMIC TIMES RIGHT NOW........ AND THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION HASN'T GOT A CLUE AS TO HOW TO GET US OUT OF IT. THE BIGGEST DANGER I SEE IS THAT THE OBAMA PLAN TO GET RE-ELECTED DEPENDS ON HIS STRATEGY TO TURN CLASSES OF FOLKS AGAINST EACH OTHER... WITH THIS TAX THE RICH PLOY. EVEN IF HE DOES THAT IT WOULDN'T BRING IN ENOUGHG MONEY TO CORRECT THESE BAD TIMES. IT WOULD BE A VERY SMALL AMOUNT OF TAXES. HE WILL START A CLASS WAR AND SPLIT AMERICANS. SOMETIME I THINK THAT IS WHAT HE IS TRYING TO DO.

September 19 2011 at 2:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

Adele, You either are a Socialist or you expect Obama to give you mo welfare.

September 17 2011 at 10:15 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Adele

Good ol' Republica Policies.... Yee Haw!
Reagan's Legacy;
1) Increased the National Debt by 189% ($998 billion to $2.6 trillion)
no one else comes close.
2) Converted millions of highpaying union jobs into low paying nonunion jobs.
3) Cut spending on healthcare leaving exservicem­en, disabled people,
and old without any support and left to rot on streets.
4) Doubled the number of poor in the country.
5) Turned the US from the major exporter of manufactur­¬ed goods in the
world to major importer of manufactur­¬ed goods.
6) Turned US from a net importer of raw natural resources into a
nation that exported raw natural resources (just like a third-worl­¬d
country).
7) Funded terrorists and tried to trade arms for hostages.
8) Funded and aided Saddam with his WMD.
9) Reagan encouraged corruption­, allowing companies to sell $25 toilet
seats to military for $360 and $8 hammers for $120.
10) Reagan cut income taxes on working class but increased payroll
taxes and mandated contributi­¬ons to Medicare and Social Security
but did so in such a way that top 1% paid 15% less than they did
before by limiting their deductions on first $61,000 but the
working poorest had theirs increased 15%.
11) Reagan took a staggering 436 vacation days at his ranch in 8 years.
12) Allowed Rupert Murdoch to circumvent the immigratio­n laws to
purchase American media sources.
13) Ignored the impending AIDS epidemic because it mostly affected Them People.
14) Encouraged the Evangelicals to become Political and Partisan..( look what he started!)

September 17 2011 at 1:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Adele's comment
savemycountry911

Obama's legacy (only need one): Destroy the US economy and make it a third world country. Hey, he's right on schedule.

September 17 2011 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ggschk

STUNNING, Huffington Post/AOL, , doesn,t have a story about Solyndra Solar panel story.

September 16 2011 at 10:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

The looney libs will one day see the Obama scam for what it is. Maybe that day will come in 2012.

September 15 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sfamilyent

This situation was decades in the making, accelerated under Republican policy, and will take years to reverse.

We really need to shift policies to put our country and our citizens first, instead of making deals with other nations to help them develop at our expense...

September 15 2011 at 8:02 AM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to sfamilyent's comment
warrenbent

Politicians don't make citizens wealthy, but the do make them poor.

This is because politicians goal is to make politicians rich. They do so by forcibly allocating the fruits of citizens labor (supposedly) on behalf of citizens, making citizens increasingly dependent on politicians.

Last year, non-defense government spending reached an all-time record percent of GDP. And last year, more citizens became poor. This year seems to be more of the same.

Does anybody notice a trend?

September 15 2011 at 9:23 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
savemycountry911

You were misinformed. It was the Dems who ruined our economy. You know, the ones who had control of the House and Senate for so long.

September 15 2011 at 2:17 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
dabrownman

I figured out why we are poorer and you won't like it. Let's talk about government waste. Since that stupid and insane LBJ sent me to Vietnam to kill poor people, we have spent 12.5 trillion dollars on eliminating poverty in the USA not counting what we have spent on the poor overseas. That accounts for 86% of the 14.5 trillion dollar federal debt.

There are more poor people today then ever and now 15% of all Americans live below the poverty line. We spent all this money and all we have to show for it is 15 trillion in debt at the end of this year and now were all are impoverished just like them for it. Man were we scammed by the Socialists. They lie like dogs. All the poor folks should be millionaires by now don't you think?

Beware of what you wish for because you can never afford it no matter how good it sounds, how altruistic it appears and how cheap it is. More good deals like this and we will have to slit our wrists and lay down in the gutter (that we paid 3 times to much for) because bankruptcy just won't cut it. The Chinese will want blood and heads to roll.

Maybe LBJ was right. Maybe it is better and way cheaper to have young guys just kill the poor instead like I did in Vietnam.

September 14 2011 at 11:27 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dabrownman

Obama sure got rich by giving his fund raising buddy 535 million tax payer dollars and telling him to hold his cut of it until after he is tossed out of office in November 2012. Little does the Messiah know we are bringing Dick Cheney out of retirement to water board him in an overseas rendition prison until he confesses to this felony theft and crime he will spend the rest of his life in prison for. And they wanted to procecute Bush for War crimes? What goes around comes around. Might as well take down Pelosi, Reid and Rahm Emanual too since they also profited from this con game.

September 14 2011 at 10:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply