The Current Population Survey (CPS) is probably the best known and most widely used of all continuing federal household surveys. Daily news (whether television, radio, or newspaper) frequently details statistics on Americans’ jobs, income, poverty status, health insurance coverage, marital status, migration, and so forth based on CPS data. For 50 years, analysts, researchers, and policymakers have also used the CPS to examine annual changes in income and earnings and to compare those changes with historical trends. This year’s report shows that the economic status of households continues to improve and that selected subgroups have experienced recent economic gains which have raised their incomes to 1989 pre-recessionary levels.
This report presents data on the income of households, families, and persons in the United States for calendar year 1996 and compares them with those for 1995. The data were compiled from information collected in the March 1997 Current Population Survey (CPS) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. The survey consisted of approximately 50,000 households nationwide.
(The figures in parentheses denote 90-percent confidence intervals.)
1 Changes in real income refer to comparisons after adjusting for inflation. The percentage changes in prices between earlier years and 1996 were computed by dividing the annual average Consumer Price Index (CPI-U) for 1996 by the annual average for earlier years. See Table B-1 in Appendix B for values of the CPI-U from 1947 to 1996.
2 The difference between the percentage changes in median household income between 1995 and 1996 for family and nonfamily households was not statistically significant.
3 The differences between the 1995-1996 percentage changes in per capita income among the race/ethnic origin groups were not statistically significant.