|Census figures reveal drop in Americans' 2020 incomes |
Americans last year saw their first significant decline in household income in nearly a decade, government data showed. The Census Bureau's annual assessment of the nation's financial well-being revealed that median household income was about $67,500 in 2020, down 2.9% from the prior year, when it hit an inflation-adjusted historical high. It came as the U.S. last year saw millions lose their jobs and national unemployment soar from a 50-year low to a high of 14.8%. The last time median household income fell significantly was 2011, in the aftermath of the 2007-09 recession. The headline income figure includes unemployment benefits but doesn’t account for income and payroll taxes nor stimulus checks or other noncash benefits like federal food programs. If those had been counted, the median household income would have risen 4% to $62,773. The bureau said the traditional poverty rate in 2020 was 11.4%, an increase of one percentage point from 2019 and the first increase after five consecutive years of declines. That translated to 37.2m people in poverty, an increase of 3.3m from 2019. The distribution of incomes changed little. The top fifth of households - with incomes above $141,100 - collected 52.2% of household income, while the top 5% alone - with incomes above $273,700 - collected 23%. The bureau reported that the income shares collected by the lowest groups dropped slightly. The lowest fifth of households - making less than $27,000 - collected 3%, down from 3.1% in 2019. Median incomes were highest in the Northeast ($75,211) and the West ($74,951), followed by the Midwest ($66,968) and the South ($61,243).