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Philip N. Cohen

Philip N. Cohen

Posted: September 16, 2010 01:01 PM

Family Income Breakdown

What's Your Reaction:

The annual income, poverty, and health insurance report comes out.

At the beginning of the week, the news was that the poverty rate would jump to a record "about 15%" for 2009. The Associated Press had polled experts too antsy to wait for the actual report, which came out today, showing a jump to only 14.3%, up from 13.2% in 2008.

The full report, with trends, allows a breakdown of family income-to-needs ratios. (That's better than just income, because family composition is bouncing around during the recession, so you need to take into account how many people are in each family.) That income-need ratio is, by definition, 1.0 at the poverty line, and numbers above that are multiples of needs, so 3.0 is income of 3-times the poverty line.

By race/ethnicity for the last 8 years, this is how it looks:

Source: My chart from this spreadsheet.

This view allows us to see the size of the White advantage, the income breakdowns within each group, and the changes within each group.

So, for example, the richest 5th of Whites are above 11-times the poverty line, while the poorest 5th of Whites are (on average) just above the poverty line. In contrast, the richest 5th of Blacks and Latinos are around 7-times the poverty line, and 40% of both groups are below 1.5-times the poverty line.

Cross posted from the Family Inequality blog.