Census Report: Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the US: 2008

  • Poverty rate rose in 2008, Census finds, By Erik Eckholm, September 10, 2009, New York Times: “In the recession last year, the nation’s poverty rate climbed to 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, according to an annual report released Thursday by the Census Bureau. The report also documented a decline in employer-provided health insurance and in coverage for adults. The rise in the poverty rate, to the highest level since 1997, portends even larger increases this year, which has registered far higher unemployment than in 2008, economists said…”
  • Census: Income fell sharply last year, By Dennis Cauchon and Richard Wolf, September 10, 2009, USA Today: “Household income fell sharply and poverty rates rose in 2008 as the severe effects of the recession took their toll on Americans’ finances, the Census Bureau reported Thursday. Median household income dropped 3.6% to $50,303 in 2008, the bureau reported. That was the sharpest drop since at least 1967 and sent income to its lowest point since 1997…”
  • U.S. poverty rate hit 11-year high in 2008, By Don Lee, September 10, 2009, Los Angeles Times: “Reporting from Washington – Showing the scars of the deep recession last year, the nation’s poverty level jumped to an 11-year high, household incomes sank and the number of people without health insurance rose slightly to 46.3 million, the government reported today. The Census Bureau said that median household incomes fell 3.6% from 2007 to $50,303 last year. That was the biggest decline since 1991 and represented millions of job cuts by employers in 2008…”
  • Growth of gov’t insurance outpaces private care, By Hope Yen and Frank Bass (AP), September 10, 2009, Houston Chronicle: “The number of Americans covered by government-sponsored health insurance plans surged to 87.4 million last year – or 29 percent of the U.S. population – amid a fierce, national debate about whether to create a new U.S.-run plan that any American could join. The number of people covered by federal Medicaid, Medicare and military insurance plans was an increase from 83 million in 2007, according to census figures released Thursday. It partially offset the eighth straight year of declines in the percentage of people with employer-provided plans and highlighted the growing role of a government-offered insurance safety net…”
  • Decade of income growth lost, Census report finds, By Carol Morello, September 10, 2009, Washington Post: “The recession has erased an entire decade of growth in household incomes, according to a Census Bureau report released Thursday that also showed more Americans last year were living in poverty and without health insurance. Median household incomes sank 3.6 percent in 2008, to $50,303, and the nation’s poverty rate rose to 13.2 percent, up from 12.5 percent in 2007. In all, 39.8 million Americans were living in poverty, defined as $22,025 for a family of four. That was the highest number since 1960…”
  • Recession takes heavy toll on U.S., By Conor Dougherty, September 10, 2009, Wall Street Journal: “The recession has slashed families’ earnings, increased poverty and left more people without health insurance, according to the Census Bureau’s annual snapshot of living standards, offering sharp evidence of how much the falling economy has touched Americans of every income and race. The report released Thursday showed median household income, adjusted for inflation, fell 3.6% last year to $50,303, the steepest year-over-year drop since at least 1967. The poverty rate, at 13.2%, was the highest since 1997, while about 700,000 more people were living without health insurance in 2008 than the year before, although the share of the population living without health insurance was about the same…”

Measuring Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage

  • In New York City, poverty defined in new terms, By Pam Fessler, September 10, 2009, National Public Radio: “New census figures Thursday are expected to show that the poverty rate rose in 2008. But the government still measures poverty the same way it did more than 40 years ago, and many experts think that gives an inaccurate measure of what’s going on. New York City developed a new measure last year based on recommendations by the National Academy of Sciences that takes into account expenses such as child care and health care costs. The result, according to backers of the new formula, is a more realistic picture of today’s world. They’re pushing the federal government to make a similar change…”
  • Another word for poverty, By Sarah Chacko, September 10, 2009, Baton Rouge Advocate: “In the coming weeks, the federal government will release 2008 data about family income and economic status. An obvious focus for many will be the poverty rate, the number of people who earn less than an established measure of income needed to cover a family’s basic needs. But in some circles, the word ‘poverty’ has become off limits. Nonprofit organizations and state agencies say they are ‘moving people to self-sufficiency’ or ‘empowering families,’ without mentioning economic status. Avoiding the word has apparently become an international trend too…”
  • Move that line, By Dave Schechter, September 9, 2009, CNN.com: “On Thursday morning, the Census Bureau will release data expected to show a “statistically significant” increase in the national poverty rate, the percentage of Americans living below the government poverty line. Based on an Associated Press interview with a Commerce Department official, the expectation is that there will have been nearly 39 million Americans living below the poverty line in 2008 – an increase of more than 1.5 million from the year before – pushing the poverty rate up to at least 12.7 percent, if not higher. In reality, that number and that rate are something of a fraud. In the first decade of the 21st Century, the U.S. government still determines who is poor with a formula created in 1963-64 using data from 1955…”
  • New figures on uninsured — but just how accurate are they?, By Kelly Brewington and Stephanie Desmon, Baltimore Sun: “The U.S. Census just released some surprising figures on the number of Americans without health insurance. The agency says the percentage of the uninsured did not grow between 2007 and 2008 — holding steady at 15.4 percent. Meanwhile, the number of uninsured people rose slightly 45.7 million to 46.3 million. During a monster recession, with rising unemployment and so many employers cutting health insurance to their workers — can those figures be right?…”