Mike Maciag is Data Editor for GOVERNING.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Americans continued to see their income shrink last year, reflecting a prolonged decline in wages and employment since the recession began.
Figures released by the Census Bureau Wednesday show real median household income declined in 29 states and the District of Columbia last year. Nationwide, median household income fell to $50,054 in 2011 -- a 1.5 percent decrease from 2010.
Western states suffered the bulk of the income losses, dropping a total of 4.1 percent. Nevada, which was hit hard by a slowdown in construction and real estate, recorded the largest decrease of any state at 10.9 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars. The state, which has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, reported a median household income of $47,043.
Vermont (-10.1 percent) and New Mexico (-9.8 percent) recorded the next-largest yearly drops in household incomes.
By comparison, Oklahomans saw their household income jump by nearly $4,000 for the year -- a 9 percent increase from 2010. Minnesota (7.1 percent), North Dakota (7.1 percent) and Tennessee (6.2 percent) also recorded noticeable gains.
Americans' household incomes plummeted throughout the recession, with data indicating an 8.1 percent decline since 2007. The extent to which incomes fell varied, with Nevada, Ohio and other states suffering significant job losses registering the largest decreases.
If there’s any good news from the new report, it’s that erosion of incomes is slowing. The inflation-adjusted U.S. median income fell $777 last year, about half the loss of the previous year.
In actual dollars not adjusted for inflation, U.S. median household incomes have remained mostly stable in recent years.
The Census Bureau computes its figures from survey data. The Bureau of Economic Analysis also compiles per-capita personal income estimates, but uses a different methodology.
For related county-level data, refer to Governing's personal income map.
Select your state below to view historical median household income totals. Figures listed are in 2011 dollars.
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