Looking ahead to next week’s Census release of income, poverty and health insurance data

On Tuesday morning, Sept. 13, the U.S. Census Bureau will release the newest data on poverty, health insurance, and annual income for 2010. This is the one data release in the year that gives us the most-quoted information on what happened to family income, poverty, and health insurance coverage over the preceding year. It’s a great window into why debates over the state of the economy and labor market have real, human consequences.

Unfortunately, we expect the bad news to continue. Why? Namely because of two factors. First, the unemployment rate increased from 9.3% in 2009 to 9.6% in 2010. Second, long-term unemployment, or the percent unemployed 27 weeks or more, grew from 31.2% in 2009 to 43.3% in 2010.

Here are the things to look out for:

Poverty:
- In 2009, the poverty rate hit a record high of 14.3%, a level not seen since 1994. The data will likely show a slight increase in poverty in 2010, a balancing act between higher unemployment and unemployment insurance extensions.
- In 2009, deep poverty hit a record high (since the data began being collected in 1975).  Again, given the poor labor market, there’s a good chance 2010 will break last year’s high as more Americans fall below half the poverty line.

Health Insurance:
- It’s likely that we’ll see a full decade of consecutive losses in employer-sponsored health insurance. As the job market remains weak (both lack of jobs and lack of bargaining power), Americans can no longer depend on their workplace for consistent affordable coverage.
- Losses in workplace coverage will lead many to become uninsured, with an expected small rise in the rate of uninsurance in the U.S. Kids will likely be somewhat insulated from these losses through public insurance, but working-age adults will continue their upward march towards nearly one in four working age adults uninsured.

Income:
- Income for the median, or typical, family, after adjusting for inflation, will have declined in 2010. Working-age households, who are most affected by deterioration in the labor market, will have seen the biggest losses.
- These losses will cap off a decade of deterioration: the median working-age household saw an income decline of nearly $5,000 between 2000 and 2009 due to both the extremely weak business cycle from 2000 to 2007 and the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009.

Check back on Tuesday for our live analysis of the 2010 data.


  • Nora

    I’m glad to see someone is concerned and looking into these alarming trends. When I   listened to President Obama’s address to the nation on Jobs, the phrase “can’t do both.” really stuck out to me. I thought, yes with the higher premiums I am now expected to pay, and the high deductibles which virtually leave all medical costs up to me I can’t do both. I can’t pay insurance premiums and my yearly health care costs. My husband owns his own business but can’t afford to hire any employees mainly due to the high cost of providing workmen’s comp insurance, and benefits that would attract good employees. Although there may be work to be done employers do not dare risk extending employment with rising cost uncertainty. I see the rising cost of medical coverage as a large contributing factor in the jobless population and even more so in the underemployed population. Many people are now working three part-time jobs because employers are not willing to offer the hours that would require them to provide benefits.