By: Joseph Lawler
September 20, 2013
Five years after the financial crisis, the most recent data shows stagnant income growth and poverty levels stuck at a record high.
The Census Bureau reported Tuesday morning that the median household income was $51,017 in 2012, statistically indistinguishable from the 2011 median of $51,100.
The good news is that incomes appear to have leveled off in 2012 following two consecutive years of clearly declining.
The bad news is that incomes remain 8.3 percent lower than they were in real terms before the start of the recession in 2007, and 9.0 percent lower than they were at their peak in 1999, even though the economy as a whole has grown by nearly a third since then.
The Census report shows that the ongoing, weak economic recovery had not yet begun to reverse the trend of soaring poverty that began with the recession.
The poverty line in 2012 was $23,283 for a two-parent family with two children, meaning that if the total household income for that family fell below $23,283, it was counted among the poor. For a single, non-elderly person without any children, the line was $11,945.
In 2012, 20.4 million Americans reported income of below half the poverty level. Of those, 7.3 million were children.
The Census cata were taken from the 2013 Current Population Survey, a household survey of about 100,000 addresses that is also used to create employment statistics. Tuesday’s reports do not include state- or local-level data, which will be included in other government surveys later this year.