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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 2013

Census Bureau's American Community Survey Provides Income, Poverty, Health Insurance Statistics for States and Local Areas

Income levels and poverty rates were not statistically different for most states and metro areas from 2011 to 2012, according to statistics released today from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Incomes remained lower and poverty rates were higher in 2012 than in 2007, the year before the recession.

The percentage of people without health insurance fell in most states in 2012 from 2010 levels, after rising between 2008 to 2010. The survey began asking about health insurance in 2008.

"The American Community Survey provides indispensable information about our nation's people, housing and economy," Census Bureau Director John H. Thompson said. "In order for governments, businesses and communities to make the most informed decisions possible, they need timely and accurate statistics as a basis for future planning."

The 2012 American Community Survey provides a multitude of statistics that measure the social, economic and housing conditions of U.S. communities. More than 40 topics are available with today's release, such as educational attainment, housing, employment, commuting, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs. Today's local-level income, poverty and health insurance results from the American Community Survey follow Tuesday's release of the national measures for each, drawn from the Current Population Survey.

The statistics released today are available in detailed tables for the nation, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, every congressional district, every metropolitan area, and all counties and places with populations of 65,000 or more.

Also released today are three reports providing analysis on income, poverty and health insurance for states and metropolitan areas.

Income

According to the report Household Income: 2012, which compares American Community Survey statistics from 2000 to 2012 and from 2011 to 2012:

  • From 2000 to 2012, the District of Columbia (23.3 percent) had one of the largest increases in median household income, going from $53,995 to $66,583. Other states with increases in income included North Dakota (17.0 percent), Wyoming (6.9 percent), Louisiana (4.2 percent) and South Dakota (4.1 percent). Not all of these states are statistically different from one another.
  • States with large declines in income from 2000 to 2012 included Georgia (13.7 percent), Indiana (13.2 percent), Michigan (19.1 percent), Mississippi (15.0 percent) and Tennessee (12.2 percent). Not all of these states are statistically different from one another.
  • From 2011 to 2012, only Hawaii (4.8 percent), Illinois (1.4 percent), Massachusetts (1.6 percent) and Oregon (3.3 percent) showed increases in median household income. None of these states are statistically different from one another.
  • Conversely, Missouri (1.6 percent) and Virginia (2.2 percent) — not statistically different from each other — were the only states where median household income decreased from 2011 to 2012.
  • Mississippi had the lowest median household income in 2012 at $37,095, while Maryland had the highest median household income at $71,122.
  • For 2012, median household incomes were lower than the U.S. median in 27 states and higher in 20 states and the District of Columbia. Pennsylvania ($51,230), Wisconsin ($51,059) and Iowa ($50,957) median household incomes did not have a statistically significant difference from the U.S. as a whole.
  • Among the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, the Washington, D.C., metro area had the highest median household income in 2012 at $88,233, while the Tampa-St. Petersburg metro area had the lowest median house income at $44,402.

Poverty

According to the report Poverty: 2000 to 2012, which compares poverty rates from 2000 to 2012 and from 2011 to 2012:

  • The number and percentage of people in poverty did not have a statistically significant change in 43 states and the District of Columbia between 2011 and 2012, while in three states (California, Mississippi and New Hampshire) the number and percentage of people in poverty increased. In New Jersey and Wyoming, the number of people in poverty increased. In Minnesota and Texas, the percentage of people in poverty declined.
  • No states showed a statistically significant decline in the percentage of people in poverty from 2000 to 2012.
  • For 2012, states with the lowest poverty rates included New Hampshire (10.0 percent), Alaska (10.1 percent), Maryland (10.3 percent), Connecticut (10.7 percent) and New Jersey (10.8 percent). Not all of these states are statistically different from one another.
  • States with the highest poverty rates for 2012 included Mississippi (24.2 percent), New Mexico (20.8 percent), Louisiana (19.9 percent), Arkansas (19.8 percent) and Kentucky (19.4 percent). Louisiana, Arkansas and Kentucky are not statistically different from one another.
  • In 2000, estimated poverty rates ranged from a low of 5.3 percent in New Hampshire to a high of 20.0 percent in Louisiana. The poverty rate for Louisiana is not statistically different from West Virginia (18.6 percent).
  • Among the largest 25 metropolitan areas, poverty rates in 2012 ranged from 8.4 percent in the Washington, D.C., metro area to 19.0 percent in the Riverside-San Bernardino metro area.

Health Insurance

A third report is Mitigating the Loss of Private Insurance with Public Coverage for the Under-65 Population: 2008 to 2012, which provides comparisons of health insurance coverage during two periods: 2008 to 2010 and 2010 to 2012. (The American Community Survey began collecting information on health insurance coverage in 2008.).

Since most adults over the age of 64 are eligible for Medicare, the report seeks to eliminate the effects of an aging population by looking at people under 65. The report examines changes in the uninsured rate for this age group and the ability of public coverage — such as Medicare, Medicaid and state health plans — to compensate for decreases in private health insurance, which is provided by an employer or purchased by an individual directly from an insurance company.

In half the states, the uninsured rate increased between 2008 and 2010, and then decreased between 2010 and 2012.

Other highlights include::

  • From 2008 to 2010, the losses of private insurance coverage outpaced gains in public insurance coverage in 32 states, resulting in an increase in overall uninsured rates in those states.
  • Arizona was the only state to show a significant decrease in public coverage over the past two years, from 24.1 percent in 2010 to 23.2 percent in 2012.
  • Kentucky, Michigan and Vermont were the only states to see a statistically significant increase in the rate of private health insurance coverage from 2010 to 2012.
  • Of the 25 most populated metro areas, the Minneapolis metro area was the only one that had a statistically significant increase in private health insurance coverage for individuals under 65 from 2010 to 2012, going from 74.4 percent to 75.5 percent.

About the American Community Survey

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about all communities in the country. The American Community Survey gives communities the current information they need to plan investments and services. Retailers, homebuilders, police departments, and town and city planners are among the many private- and public-sector decision makers who count on these annual results.

Ever since Thomas Jefferson directed the first census in 1790, the census has collected detailed characteristics about our nation's people. Questions about jobs and the economy were added 20 years later under James Madison, who said such information would allow Congress to "adapt the public measures to the particular circumstances of the community," and over the decades allow America "an opportunity of marking the progress of the society."

Beginning in the fall of 2013, the Census Bureau is undertaking a review of all questions on the American Community Survey to ensure adequate coverage of statistical information that communities rely on. The survey is the only source of local statistics for most of the 40 topics it covers, such as educational attainment, housing, employment, commuting, language spoken at home, nativity, ancestry and selected monthly homeowner costs down to the smallest communities. The Census Bureau will invite the public to give feedback on each question asked in the survey. For more information on the review process, please visit the American Community Survey website for more details.

Additional American Community Survey Results

On Oct. 24, the Census Bureau will release a set of American Community Survey statistics covering all areas with populations of 20,000 or more, based on data collected between 2010 and 2012. A third set of American Community Survey statistics, available for all geographic areas regardless of population size, down to the block group level, will be released on Dec. 5 covering 2008 to 2012.

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Note: Statistics from sample surveys are subject to sampling and nonsampling error. All comparisons made in the reports have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted. Please consult the tables for specific margins of error. For more information, go to <http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/documentation_main/>.

Changes in survey design from year to year can affect results. See <http://www.census.gov/acs/www/data_documentation/2012_release/> for more information on changes affecting the 2012 statistics. See http://www.census.gov/acs/www/guidance_for_data_users/comparing_2012/ for guidance on comparing 2012 American Community Survey statistics with previous years and the 2010 Census.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Public Information Office | PIO@census.gov | Last Revised: July 15, 2014