WASHINGTON, D.C. – Surprising no one, the U.S. Census Bureau reported statistics on Tuesday indicating that 2020 was a bad year financially for most Americans.
The median household income of Americans decreased by nearly 3 percent during 2020, according to the 2021 Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) report released by Census officials.
“Median household income was $67,521 in 2020,” explained Census spokesman Mike Friedrich, “a decrease of 2.9 percent from the 2019 median of $69,560. This was the first statistically significant decline in median household income since 2011.”
While the CPS ASEC report did not speculate on the causes of that decline, labor experts acknowledge that the coronavirus pandemic did have a negative impact on the U.S. workforce.
Census officials, however, confirm that the total number of Americans working full-time, year-round decreased by more than 13.5 million in 2020, while the total number of people reporting any earnings that year decreased by about 3 million. That dip in the national workforce resulted in a 1.2 percent drop in real median earnings for all U.S. workers.
Lost earnings in 2020 also contributed to an increase in the national poverty rate.
“The official U.S. poverty rate was 11.4 percent (in 2020), up by 1 percent from 2019,” Friedrich explained. “This was the first increase in the poverty rate after five consecutive annual declines. In 2020, there were 37.2 million people living in poverty, approximately 3.3 million more than in 2019.”
According to the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, the poverty level threshold for a family of four in 2020 was a household income of $26,496.
In recent years, Utah’s median household income and poverty rate had bested the national average.
In 2019, the percent of Utahns living in poverty was 8.9 percent, compared to 10.4 percent at national level.
Although statistics on Utah’s median household income and poverty rate for 2020 will not be released until December, Census officials are forecasting a regional dip in median income throughout the South and West of 2.3 percent.
If that estimate holds true for Utah, the median household income will likely decline by about $1,600 from its 2019 level of $71,621 to about $70,000 in 2020.
Census officials report that the reduction in employment in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic also had a negative impact on national health insurance levels.
Despite recent efforts to bolster enrollment in public health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), employer-sponsored private health insurance coverage continues to be favored by most Americans.
Census officials say that while about 90 percent of Americans have some type of health insurance, about two-thirds of them are covered by private insurance.
In 2020, about 28 million Americans had no health insurance, in part due to reduced opportunities for workers to participate in employer-sponsored insurance programs during the ongoing pandemic.
The Census Bureau administers the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement each year between February and April by telephone and in-person surveys.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the response rate for the 2020 CPS ASEC was about 73 percent, about 10 percent lower than the survey conducted in 2019.