Census welcomes Americans back to 1997 income

Friday, September 11, 2009

How was your life in 1997?

If you're like the average American, you're now making the same amount of money as you were 12 years ago -- while still paying 2009 prices.

That's the word from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported median household income dropped 3.5 percent to $50,303 in 2008, the sharpest drop since 1967.

The figures, the first from the Census to reflect the current recession, should be no surprise to many in Southwest Nebraska and Northwest Kansas, who have seen their hours cut voluntarily or involuntary, or even been laid off altogether.

Nationally, it put 13.2 percent of Americans in poverty, up from 12.5 percent in 2007, the highest rate since 1997.

Hispanics fared the worst, with median household income dropping 5.6 percent to $37,913, and women saw their median income decline 1.9 percent in 2008, nearly double the 1.9 percent decline in income for men working full time.

Since President Obama's speech focused attention on health care this week, it's worth noting that the number of Americans not covered by private health insurance increased to 46.3 million from 45.7 million in 2007. And, while the number of people on private insurance declined by 1 million in 2008, the number of people getting health insurance from government programs such as Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for the poor increased by 4.4 percent.

As more and more Americans go on government health care programs, which are notorious for underreimbursing healthcare providers for their services, more and more of the cost falls on private pay patients.

And don't expect things to get any better, USA Today quoted Sheldon Danziger of the Populations Studies Center at the University of Michigan as predicting that household income will drop 5 percent or more in 2009.

And there's more evidence that the recession is coming home to Nebraska.

State revenue fell 4.6 percent below certified projections for August, putting state 3.2 percent below the expected forecast of $519 million for the fiscal year that began in July.

Gov. Heineman said he'll keep an eye on receipts, and if need be, recommend cuts in the 2010-11 half of the state's biennial budget. He vows to oppose any attempt to raise sales or income taxes.

What's the upshot?

Nebraska, like the rest of the nation, can't afford higher taxes of any kind, especially hidden taxes to pay for an untried universal healthcare scheme.

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  • You say that more costs are going to fall on private health insurance, this is true with or without changes.

    Isn't the increase cost to private insurers, and then passed on to us another type of "hidden tax"? This is particularly important if real wages are further reduced another 5%. Knowing this, wouldn't it be easier and more productive to offer an idea of what might help or better yet a solution to this problem we all know is here and will only get worse.

    I am sick and tired of people pointing out what is wrong and then offering no solutions. Is this what Americans have been reduced to? All ***** and no action?

    -- Posted by commonsense2 on Fri, Sep 11, 2009, at 5:36 PM
  • I probably would be more inclined to accept the arguments of people like Sceptre if they'd include any kind of supporting evidence for their assertion, including links to their sources.I don't see any of those countries with systems not as good as our current one rushing to abandon theirs in favor of the American model.Sceptre might post the costs of those less good systems either as a per capita expenditure figure or as a percentage of GDP and contrast outcomes in terms of average lifespan, infant mortality and other measures. I seldom see the opponents of a comprehensive health care system provide this sort of support for their opposing arguments.

    -- Posted by davis_x_machina on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 10:04 AM
  • The do nothings love to say we have the best health care system in the world we shouldn't mess with it. Wrong.

    According to the World Health Organization the United States in 2004 ranked 37th. Far from being the best.

    A baby born in the U.S. in 2004 will live to an average age of 77.9. That ranks 42nd, DOWN from 11th, only 20 years ago. Figures from the Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics.

    Yes we are number one in something in health care, COST of health care.

    Competition of some kind needs to be created to force the big insurance companies to lower their premiums. As long as they have a monopoly the premiums will only go up.

    Any of you get tired of fighting the insurance companies with their "usual and customary costs" bull, well guess what, the company that does the stats and gives those figures to the insurance companies, it is owned by United Healthcare! So guess who gets screwed on those, it sure as hell isn't the insurance companies!

    I do not have the answers, that is for the boys in Washington to iron out, but doing nothing is not going to work either.

    -- Posted by goarmy67 on Mon, Sep 14, 2009, at 1:45 PM
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