Poverty, Income and Insurance, 2005

This morning, the Census Bureau released the 2005 poverty figures, as well as data on income and health insurance coverage.

  • The official poverty rate was 12.6 percent, statistically unchanged from the 2004 level (12.7 percent).  The Administration may try to spin this as good news, but it’s really a sign of how little the benefits of this "recovery" are spreading.  As my friends over at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities point out, it’s unheard of for poverty to still be higher four years into a recovery that it was at the low point of the recession.
  • Median household income increased slightly, even though median earnings of year-round full-time workers, both male and female, fell slightly.  I think that has to mean more people per household were working, or were working more hours.
  • I think the biggest story in this release is the decline in health insurance coverage.  46.6 million people in the US didn’t have health insurance, for an uninsurance rate of of 15.9 percent.  And that figure would look much worse if there hadn’t been a big expansion of public insurance for children in the 1990s.  I just don’t see anything turning around the movement away from employer-provided coverage.  I read something recently (in the New Yorker, maybe?) that argued that the campaign to require WalMart to provide health insurance benefits is really a back door way to try to get universal coverage, by getting employers to push for it.  Makes sense to me.

For those of you looking for a Tuesday Book Review, I’ll be posting about The Price of Privilege tomorrow.

One Response to “Poverty, Income and Insurance, 2005”

  1. ElizabethN Says:

    You might be interested in Elizabeth Warren’s take on the same subject, at http://www.tpmcafe.com/blog/warrenreports/2006/aug/30/politics_of_the_headline

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