Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Increase in workers drives household median income higher

Dennis Cauchon
USA TODAY

The nation's median household income rose last year for the first time since 1999, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

Median household income climbed 1.1% to $46,326 in 2005. That means half of U.S. households earned more and half earned less. Per capita income rose 1.5% to $25,036, the Census Bureau said.

The income jump hid some somber news. Earnings actually fell for people working full-time. Household income rose because more people worked in the households, albeit at lower paying jobs. Median earnings of men declined 1.8% last year. For women, the decline was 1.3%.

"It tells us the economy is still not generating the higher-paying jobs we'd like to see," says Douglas Besharov of the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. He says some of the earnings decline reflects demographic changes found in an aging population: older workers cutting back on hours and more women entering the workforce as their children grow up.

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We all know how this'll get spun. November's coming up quick!


Buck