Household Incomes Improving, But Still Way Down

August 22, 2013

Though median household income has been rising for the last two years, it's still 4.4 percent below where it was in June 2009 when the recession officially ended, according to a new study by two former Census Bureau officials. Annual median household income rose to $52,100 in June, up from $50,700 in August 2011. But that's $2,400 below June 2009 numbers.

What’s more, median household income stands 6.1 percent below its level when the recession began in December 2007, according to the study. 

Some of the largest declines in household income occurred among African-Americans, those who did not attend college, and households headed by people under the age of 25, the study notes. Regionally, the South suffered some of the worst of the brunt, with median household income falling 6.2 percent — to $47,900 — from June 2009 to June of this year. 

“Groups with low incomes tended to have steeper declines in income,” says Gordon W. Green Jr., an author of the report from Sentier Research. 

Households headed by non-college educated people saw their post-recession income fall to $39,300 in June of this year — a decline of 9.3 percent, according to the report. For households headed by people with a bachelor’s degree or higher, post-recession income declined to $84,700, or by 6.5 percent. 

The only group that saw a significant increase in post-recession income were households headed by people ages 65 to 74. These households saw median incomes rise by 5.1 percent to $43,000, despite the fact that many were retired. 

Meanwhile, post-recession incomes for households headed by people under the age of 25 dropped 9.6 percent to $31,300.

The study adjusted for changes in cost of living over time. 

Source: “Median Income Rises, but Is Still 6% Below Level at Start of Recession in ’07,” The New York Times (Aug. 21, 2013)

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