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Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States


See Also: Census Maps of Health Insurance Uninsured

Source: U.S. Census

Health Insurance Highlights
Detailed Tables

THURSDAY, SEPT. 10, 2009
Public Information Office
301-763-3762 (fax)
e-mail: [email protected]


The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that real median household income in the United States fell 3.6 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303. This breaks a string of three years of annual income increases and coincides with the recession that started in December 2007.

The nation�s official poverty rate in 2008 was 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007. There were 39.8 million people in poverty in 2008, up from 37.3 million in 2007.

Meanwhile, the number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008, while the percentage remained unchanged at 15.4 percent.

These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2009 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC):


Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to people reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

Between 2007 and 2008, the real median income of non-Hispanic white households declined 2.6 percent (to $55,530); for blacks, it declined 2.8 percent (to $34,218); for Asians, it declined 4.4 percent (to $65,637); and for Hispanics, it declined 5.6 percent (to $37,913). Except for the difference between the declines for non-Hispanic white and Hispanic households, all other differences between the declines were not statistically significant.


Between 2007 and 2008, real median household income declined in the South by 4.9 percent (to $45,590), declined in the Midwest by 4.0 percent (to $50,112) and declined in the West by 2.0 percent (to $55,085). Income in the Northeast was statistically unchanged ($54,346). The apparent differences in the declines in median household income between the South and Midwest, and the Midwest and West were not statistically significant. The apparent difference between the median household incomes for the West and Northeast was not statistically significant.


Native- and foreign-born households, including those maintained by a naturalized citizen, had declines in real median income between 2007 and 2008. Income was statistically unchanged for households maintained by a noncitizen. The decline for native-born households was 3.5 percent; the decline for foreign-born households was 5.3 percent; and the decline for those maintained by a naturalized citizen was 4.8 percent. The apparent differences among the declines in median income for native-born, foreign-born and naturalized citizen households were not statistically significant.


In 2008, the earnings of women who worked full time, year-round was 77 percent of that for corresponding men, down from 78 percent in 2007. The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round declined by 1.0 percent between 2007 and 2008, from $46,846 to $46,367. For women, the corresponding drop was 1.9 percent, from $36,451 to $35,745.

Income Inequality

Income inequality was statistically unchanged between 2007 and 2008, as measured by shares of aggregate household income by quintiles and the Gini index. The Gini index was 0.466 in 2008. (The Gini index is a measure of household income inequality; 0 represents perfect income equality and 1 perfect inequality.)



The increase in the poverty rate between 2007 and 2008 was the first statistically significant annual increase since 2004. The 2008 poverty rate (13.2 percent) was the highest since 1997. In 2008, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 10.3 percent and 8.1 million, respectively, up from 9.8 percent and 7.6 million in 2007.

For married-couple families, both the poverty rate and the number in poverty increased � 5.5 percent (3.3 million) in 2008, up from 4.9 percent (2.8 million) in 2007. Both measures, however, showed no statistical change in 2008 for female-householder-with-no-husband-present families (28.7 percent and 4.2 million) and for male-householder-no wife-present families (13.8 percent and 723,000).


As defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2008 was $22,025; for a family of three, $17,163; for a family of two, $14,051; and for unrelated individuals, $10,991.

Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to people reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

In 2008, the poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic whites (8.6 percent in 2008, up from 8.2 percent in 2007), Asians (11.8 percent in 2008, up from 10.2 percent in 2007) and Hispanics (23.2 percent in 2008, up from 21.5 percent in 2007). The poverty rate in 2008 was statistically unchanged for blacks (24.7 percent).



The poverty rate increased for children younger than 18 (19.0 percent in 2008, up from 18.0 percent in 2007) and people 18 to 64 (11.7 percent in 2008, up from 10.9 percent in 2007), while it remained statistically unchanged for people 65 and older (9.7 percent). Similar to the patterns observed for the poverty rate in 2008, the number of people in poverty increased for children younger than 18 (14.1 million in 2008, up from 13.3 million in 2007) and people 18 to 64 (22.1 million in 2008, up from 20.4 million in 2007) but remained statistically unchanged for seniors 65 and older (3.7 million).


Among the native-born population, 12.6 percent (33.3 million) were in poverty in 2008, up from 11.9 percent (31.1 million) in 2007. Among the foreign-born population, the poverty rate and the number in poverty increased to 17.8 percent and 6.5 million in 2008, up from 16.5 percent and 6.2 million, respectively, in 2007. The poverty rate in 2008 for naturalized citizens, 10.2 percent, was statistically unchanged from 2007, while the poverty rate for those who were not U.S. citizens rose to 23.3 percent in 2008, up from 21.3 percent in 2007.


The Midwest and West experienced increases in both their poverty rate and the number in poverty. The Midwest poverty rate increased to 12.4 percent (8.1 million) in 2008, up from 11.1 percent (7.2 million) in 2007, and the West poverty rate increased to 13.5 percent (9.6 million) in 2008, up from 12.0 percent (8.4 million) in 2007. The poverty rates for the Northeast (11.6 percent) and the South (14.3 percent) were both statistically unchanged.



The number of people with health insurance increased from 253.4 million in 2007 to 255.1 million in 2008. The number of people without health insurance coverage rose from 45.7 million in 2007 to 46.3 million in 2008. Between 2007 and 2008, the number of people covered by private health insurance decreased from 202.0 million to 201.0 million, while the number covered by government health insurance climbed from 83.0 million to 87.4 million. The number covered by employment-based health insurance declined from 177.4 million to 176.3 million. The number of uninsured children declined from 8.1 million (11.0 percent) in 2007 to 7.3 million (9.9 percent) in 2008. Both the uninsured rate and number of uninsured children are the lowest since 1987, the first year that comparable health insurance data were collected. Although the uninsured rate for children in poverty declined from 17.6 percent in 2007 to 15.7 percent in 2008, children in poverty were more likely to be uninsured than all children.

Race and Hispanic Origin (Race data refer to those reporting a single race only. Hispanics can be of any race.)

The uninsured rate and number of uninsured for non-Hispanic whites increased in 2008 to 10.8 percent and 21.3 million, from 10.4 percent and 20.5 million in 2007. The uninsured rate and number of uninsured for blacks in 2008, meanwhile, were not statistically different from 2007, at 19.1 percent and 7.3 million. The uninsured rate for Asians in 2008, 17.6 percent, was not statistically different from 2007.

The percentage of uninsured Hispanics decreased to 30.7 percent in 2008, from 32.1 percent in 2007. The number of uninsured Hispanics was not statistically different in 2008, at 14.6 million. Based on a three-year average (2006-2008), 31.7 percent of people who reported American Indian and Alaska Native as their race were without coverage. The three-year average uninsured rate for Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders was 18.5 percent.


The uninsured rates for the native-born and foreign-born populations were statistically unchanged at 12.9 percent and 33.5 percent, respectively, in 2008. Among the foreign-born population, the uninsured rates for both naturalized citizens (18.0 percent) and noncitizens (44.7 percent) were statistically unchanged.


At 11.6 percent, the Northeast and the Midwest had lower uninsured rates in 2008 than the West (17.4 percent) and the South (18.2 percent). The 2008 rates for the Northeast, Midwest and South were not statistically different from their respective 2007 rates. The uninsured rate for the West increased to 17.4 percent in 2008, up from 16.9 percent in 2007. The CPS ASEC is subject to sampling and nonsampling errors. All comparisons made in the report have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted.

Download source of the data and accuracy of the estimates for the CPS (PDF)


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