New Census Data Shows Racial and Gender Inequality Remain Firmly Intact

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The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual data on median household income and poverty. The headline numbers indicated that the nationwide poverty rate dropped 0.5 percentage points to 11.8%. Median household income was essentially unchanged from 2017 at $63,179. The earnings of black Americans and women ranged far below that national figure.

Black Americans posted a median household income of $41,361 in the new “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2018” report. That is 65% of the national average. White Americans (known as non-Hispanic whites) earned $70,642. Black median income was, therefore, 58% of the white figure. The median household income for Asians was $87,194. For Hispanics, the figure was $51,450.

The report’s authors said, “The 2018 real median earnings of men at $55,291 and women at $45,097 who worked full-time, year-round increased by 3.4% and 3.3%, respectively, between 2017 and 2018.” That means women make 81.6% of what men do, about the same as last year.

There were also wide differences in poverty rates. Overall, economists applauded the drop, in part because it is the first year it has been below 2007 levels, just before the Great Recession. While the national rate was 11.8%, it was much lower at 8.1% for whites. The poverty rate for blacks was 20.8%. The level for Asians was 10.1% and for Hispanics was 17.6%.

The 2018 poverty rate for men stood at 10.6%, statistically flat with 2017. The poverty rate for females last year was 12.9%, a dip from 13.6% in 2017.

The Supplemental Poverty Measure expands the official poverty measure by adding several government programs set up to assist low-income families and individuals that are not included in the official poverty measure. This expanded measure stood at 13.1%, which the authors said was not statistically different from 2017. The primary reasons government programs have moved some people above the poverty line were Social Security, which moved 27.3 million people out of poverty, and refundable tax credits, which positively affected the situations of 7.9 million Americans.

Experts considered the highlight figures as mixed. Poverty improved. Median income was basically flat. The news, however, for black Americans and women was not good at all.

For more on poverty see the 24/7 Wall St. special report, Poverty in America.


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