The United States has become wealthier, better educated, less impoverished and less transitory over the second half of the past decade, according to data released Thursday by the US Census Bureau.
The median household income for the nation, which had been nearly $54,000 from 2011 to 2015, rose to nearly $65,000 during the 2016 to 2020 period, which was the latter part of the longest expanding history of US business cycles, according to American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.
With the exception of Colorado, the states that saw the largest household income gains were mostly on the coasts. Rocky Mountain State joined the District of Columbia, California, Massachusetts and Washington with household jumps ranging from $15,000 to $20,000. The smallest gains, of $6,000 or less, were recorded in Alaska, Louisiana and Puerto Rico.
The data released Thursday reflects the second half of a decade of expansion in the US economy following the Great Recession. The expansion came to an end in the spring of 2020 when the coronavirus began to spread across the United States, forcing businesses to close and workers to be laid off. The data captured only a small portion of the pandemic’s initial impact, according to the Census Bureau.
The country’s poverty rate has declined significantly over the last half of the decade, from 15.5% during the period 2011 to 2015, in the aftermath of the Great Recession, to 12.8% during the period 2016 to 2020. Except for Alaska, where its change was not statistically significant, poverty decreased in 49 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
As household income rose and poverty fell, the size of houses grew. The number of owner-occupied units with at least four bedrooms increased from 29.7% to 31.3%
People were slightly less mobile in the latter half of the 2010s, with 86.2% staying in the same dwelling over the 2016 to 2020 period, compared to 85.1% over the 2011 to 2015 period. Young adults, who tend to move more than any age group, have also slowed their mobility, with 76.4% of people aged 25-34 staying put, down from 75% between 2011 and 2015. Demographers say Overall mobility in the United States has declined in recent years because housing construction has not kept pace with population growth and people’s rising indebtedness makes travel more difficult.
The United States has become more educated in the second half of the 2010s, with almost a third of the population over the age of 25 having a bachelor’s degree or higher between 2016 and 2020, compared to 29.8% between 2011 and 2015.
Income inequality at the start and end of the decade remained virtually the same, although it was at its highest level in the 2010s that in more than five decades records have been kept. It fell slightly in Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island and Texas. It increased most significantly in Wyoming.
The American Community Survey provides the most comprehensive data on American life, asking 3.5 million households each year about commute times, internet access, family life, income, education, disabilities, military service and employment. The disruptions caused by the pandemic produced fewer responses in 2020. Due to the low response rate, the 1-year version of the survey capturing year-over-year changes was not up to par. Census Bureau standards and has been released for testing only. format.
For the 5-year version of the American Community Survey released Thursday, the Census Bureau revised its methodology to reduce the impact of the lack of responses.
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