NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 29, 2007

The nation's median household income rose to $48,200 and the poverty rate fell to 12.3 percent in 2006, the first time this decade that both improved, according to a new Census Bureau report.


  • All racial and ethnic groups gained in median household income, though the increase among blacks was minimal; poverty declined in all major racial and ethnic groups, particularly among Hispanics.
  • Only 9.4 percent of seniors were in poverty in 2006, the lowest rate ever recorded, surpassing the 9.7 percent pre-recession rate in 1999; the rate was 10.8 percent for working-age people and 17.4 percent for children.
  • For the second straight year, women earned 77 percent of men's salaries; men's $42,261 median earnings were the lowest in a decade, women's median earnings were $32,515, a six-year low.

In addition:

  • Income was highest and poverty lowest in the East, led in both cases by Maryland; income was lowest and poverty highest in the South, led in both cases by Mississippi.
  • Rural areas continued to fare poorly compared with cities and suburbs; while the poverty rate declined 2.7 percent in metro areas last year, it increased 6.2 percent elsewhere.

Some say the income and poverty data do not show the true picture of poverty reduction, since illegal immigrants are included and most federal anti-poverty programs are not. "These people are not poor in the ordinary sense that the American people understand the word," said Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation.

Source: Richard Wolf, "Poverty drops as nation's income hits 5-year high," USA Today, August 29, 2007.

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