Remember This Picture

October 4th, 2011 at 11:56 pm

Traveling to Philly tomorrow to give a presentation on economic and budget challenges facing families with kids, so light posting.

But in prepping, I took a closer look at some of the Census data for families with children, including real median family incomes by race and ethnicity.  The results are striking.

When the 2010 data came out, I posted on the “lost decade” for the poor and middle class, making the point that their economic difficulties were not simply a function of the recession.  They failed to gain ground in the recovery—it wasn’t like they climbed a hill and fell back a bit.  The recession just accelerated the fall.

Here’s what I’m talking about, through the lens of real median income for families with kids.  The bars break down the percentage losses over the recovery and recession (these are actually changes in natural logs; see data note).  I also provide the real dollars in a table below for the two peak years 2000 and 2007, along with the most recent year—2010.

Overall, middle-class families with kids lost about 10% in their real income, driven by particularly large losses for minority families.  African-American families lost about $6,300 over the decade (see table below).  As I’ll show in a later post, these years stand in marked contrast to the trends in the 1990s.

I recently asserted that one of the main issues that must be at the heart of the forthcoming economic debate leading up to the election will be the impact of the supply-side, trickle-down, deregulatory agenda that we continue to hear from conservatives.  This picture should be emblazoned on the mind of every parent evaluating that debate.

Data note: Census Bureau data are on this page, table f-9.  See real median income for families with one or more kids.  I used natural log changes in the figure so they would be additive over the two periods (2000-07 and 2007-10).


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