Who has suffered most?

Date posted: October 11, 2011

The latest household income numbers from the Census were just released, and they don’t paint a pretty picture.  In 2010, household income continued to fall. N.C. State University economist considers what the Census shows for richer, middle-income and poorer-income households.

“First of all, in terms of the average household income … it’s continued to fall.  And household income now is as low as it was in 2006.  So, there’s been absolutely no progress in household income for four years from 2006 to 2010.

“But in terms of who’s suffered most, actually we see a very interesting pattern when we look at the latest Census numbers.  The lowest income households have had a drop of 9 percent in their income since 2006.  The highest income households have had a drop of 7 percent.  It’s actually the middle income households who have had — they’ve had a drop, but they’ve had a smaller drop of about 4 percent.

“And I think the reasons for this are several: Number one, unemployment is … always going to be highest among lowest-income households.  Lowest-income households tend to have the lowest levels of education, and there’s strong correlation between education and employment.

“At the other end of the spectrum, from highest-income households, I think those households have suffered a big drop in income because of losses in investment markets — particularly in the housing market and … in the stock markets.

“So it’s not a pretty picture across the board, but there have been some differences within segments of household income.”

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