Annual survey showcases income, disparity and fertility rates
The latest U.S. Census Bureau release on Thursday confirms what researchers and economists have been saying for years: America is getting older, richer, and more unequal.
Household incomes nationally ticked up by 0.8% between 2017 and 2018. Although a smaller increase than in previous years, it marks the second year in a row that the national average household income was higher than in 2007, the year before the Great Recession.
Other measures, however, point to future troubles.
For one, income inequality is on the rise. Puerto Rico, Washington, D.C., New York, and Connecticut top the list of U.S. states and territories with the highest measures of income inequality. Utah and Alaska are among the most equal.
“Even though the typical household is doing better, the gains and the growth have disproportionately gone to the upper income households,” said Richard Fry, senior researcher at Pew Research Center.
Racial and ethnic disparities also persist. While most households are seeing the same income now as they were before the recession, African-American households have not recovered as quickly, Fry said.
The figures released Thursday showed that median household incomes in white households hovered at $65,902 nationally, compared to $41,511 for black households. Meanwhile, Asian households saw median incomes of $87,243.
The one-year American Community Survey has been released annually since 2005. While less precise than the better-known decennial census, the survey is the most up-to-date snapshot available of a broad swath of American social and economic measures, with data collected between January and December 2018.
Many researchers watch the survey to measure how well the country is doing in the wake of the recession. Many say the weak recovery is related to the continued reluctance of young adults to have children and form households.