Income and Employment Data from the 2010 American Community Survey

Last week the Census Bureau released data on the national poverty rate. As was discussed in our recent blog about this data, the number of people in poverty in 2010 was the largest in the 52 years for which poverty estimates are available. There were 46.2 million people in poverty in 2010, up from 43.6 million in 2009, and the nation's official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent, up from 14.3 percent in 2009.

This week, the American Community Survey (ACS) data were released. The ACS is a sort of mini-census conducted annually that polls roughly three million homes per year. This survey provides demographic, social, economic, and housing data for states, congressional districts, counties, and other localities. In other words, it provides much more data on what is happening at local levels.

According to the ACS, real median household income fell between 2009 and 2010, decreasing by 2.2 percent from $51,190 to $50,046. No state showed an increase in real median household income

The ACS data also show a continued decrease in employment. Between 2008 and 2010 the nation experienced a 4.9 percent decline in the employment/population ratio, from 71.5 percent in 2008 to 66.6 in 2010. In fact, all of the 50 largest metropolitan areas, except New Orleans–Metairie-Kenner, Louisiana, experienced a significant decrease in their employment/population ratio during this time period.

Although the recession was “officially” over by mid-2009, the nation’s employment ratio continued to decline between 2009 and 2010, dropping from 68.2 percent to 66.6 percent. Although this decline was smaller than the 3.3 percent decline that occurred between 2008 and 2009, the overwhelming majority of the 50 largest metropolitan areas (43) continued to experience declines between 2009 and 2010

Income and Unemployment in Illinois

In Illinois, median household income, at $52,972, is slightly above the national average of $50,046. Yet, Illinoisan’s still experienced a 3.7 percent decline from last year’s median household income of $54,992. In terms of employment/population ratios, Illinois is again slightly above the national average of 66.6 percent, at 72.2 percent, however, the decrease between 2008 and 2010 shows that the downward trend in this ratio is continuing. In 2008, Illinois’ employment ratio was 72.2 percent, in 2009 it was 68.7 percent, and it’s now at 67.4 percent.

White House Jobs Bill

On September 8th the President, speaking before a joint session of Congress, unveiled the proposed American Jobs Act bill. The bill, which proposes tax credits for American businesses, and payroll tax cuts for all workers, is intended to get the economy going again. As President Obama stated: "The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: to put more people back to work and more money in the pockets of those who are working. It will create more jobs for construction workers, more jobs for teachers, more jobs for veterans, and more jobs for the long-term unemployed. It will provide a tax break for companies who hire new workers, and it will cut payroll taxes in half for every working American and every small business. It will provide a jolt to an economy that has stalled, and give companies confidence that if they invest and hire, there will be customers for their products and services."

Of particular interest, given the ACS data on unemployment, the bill, which is a combination of tax cuts, investments in infrastructure, funding for job training, and benefit extensions, contains provisions for extending unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. The need for job creation and the extension of benefits for those currently unemployed is underscored by the ACS data.

A complete copy of the 2011 American Community Survey data is available from the Census Bureau. A summary and the full text of the American Jobs Act of 2011 are available on the White House website.