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Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2009

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Report Number P60-238


This report presents data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage in the United States based on information collected in the 2010 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Summary of findings:

  • The median household income in 2009 was not statistically different from the 2008 median in real terms.1
  • The poverty rate increased between 2008 and 2009.
  • The uninsured rate and number of people without health insurance increased between 2008 and 2009.

These results were not uniform across groups. For example, between 2008 and 2009, real median household income declined for non-Hispanic Whites and Blacks, while the changes for Asians and Hispanics were not statistically significant.2 The poverty rate increased for non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, while the change for Asians was not statistically significant. Additionally, for health insurance, the uninsured rate and number of uninsured increased for non-Hispanic Whites, Blacks, and Hispanics, while the changes for Asians were not statistically significant. These results are discussed in more detail in the three main sections of this report—income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. Each section presents estimates by characteristics such as race, Hispanic origin, nativity, and region. Other topics covered are earnings of workers, including full-time, year-round workers; families in poverty; and health insurance coverage of children.

1 All income values are adjusted to reflect 2009 dollars. “Real” refers to income after adjusting for inflation. The adjustment is based on percentage changes in prices between 2009 and earlier years and is computed by dividing the annual average Consumer Price Index Research Series (CPI-U-RS) for 2009 by the annual average for earlier years. The CPI-U-RS values for 1947 to 2009 are available in Appendix A and on the Internet at <www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/data/incpovhlth/2009/p60no238_appacpitable.pdf>. Consumer prices between 2008 and 2009 fell by 0.4 percent.

2 Federal surveys now give respondents the option of reporting more than one race. Therefore, two basic ways of defining a race group are possible. A group such as Asian may be defined as those who reported Asian and no other race (the race-alone or single-race concept) or as those who reported Asian regardless of whether they also reported another race (the race-alone-or-in-combination concept). The body of this report (text, figures, and tables) shows data using the first approach (race alone). The appendix tables show data using both approaches. Use of the single-race population does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing data. The Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches.

In this report, the term “non-Hispanic White” refers to people who are not Hispanic and who reported White and no other race. The Census Bureau uses non-Hispanic Whites as the comparison group for other race groups and Hispanics.

Because Hispanics may be any race, data in this report for Hispanics overlap with data for race groups. Being Hispanic was reported by 12.9 percent of White householders who reported only one race, 2.9 percent of Black householders who reported only one race, and 2.0 percent of Asian householders who reported only one race.

The small sample size of the Asian population and the fact that the CPS does not use separate population controls for weighting the Asian sample to national totals contribute to the large variances surrounding estimates of this group. This means that for some estimates for the Asian population, we are unable to detect statistically significant changes from the previous year. The American Community Survey (ACS), based on a much larger sample size of the population, is a better source for estimating and identifying changes for small groups of the population, such as the Asian population.

The householder is the person (or one of the people) in whose name the home is owned or rented and the person to whom the relationship of other household members is recorded. If a married couple owns the home jointly, either the husband or the wife may be listed as the householder. Since only one person in each household is designated as the householder, the number of householders is equal to the number of households. This report uses the characteristics of the householder to describe the household.

Data users should exercise caution when interpreting aggregate results for the Hispanic population or for race groups because these populations consist of many distinct groups that differ in socioeconomic characteristics, culture, and recency of immigration. In addition, the CPS does not use separate population controls for weighting the Asian sample to national totals. Data were first collected for Hispanics in 1972 and for Asians and Pacific Islanders in 1987. For further information, see <www.bls.census.gov/cps/ads/adsmain.htm>.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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