The economic security of working families depends on reliable access to affordable health care, as well as opportunities to earn good incomes and to share in the benefits of economic growth.
New information released by the Census Bureau today shows that, in 2013, Massachusetts continued to lead the nation in the share of its state population covered by health insurance. With 96.3 percent of people in Massachusetts covered, the Commonwealth far exceeds the national average of 86.6 percent. Massachusetts has led the nation in health care coverage for its population since the implementation of the state’s health reform in 2006. [For more on health insurance coverage rates, see MassBudget’s new factsheet on this part of today’s Census release, available HERE.]
Today’s Census data also reveal that four years into an economic recovery, low and moderate income U.S. households are seeing limited benefits from the nation’s economic growth – median household income is lower and the poverty rate is still higher than in 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. Modest reductions in the overall and child poverty rates, however, did occur between 2012 and 2013. Specifically, the data show the following:
- There was no statistically significant change in real U.S. median household income between 2012 and 2013. U.S median household income in 2013 stood at $51,939, an amount 8.0 percent (or $4,497) below pre-recession, 2007 levels (adjusted for inflation).
- The U.S. poverty rate fell to 14.5 percent in 2013, which is lower than the 15.0 percent rate in 2012 and is the first statistically significant decline since 2006. The 2013 rate remains significantly higher than the pre-recession (2007) rate of 12.5 percent.
- The U.S. poverty rate for children dropped to 19.9 percent in 2013, a decline from 21.8 percent in 2012. This is the first statistically significant decline in the child poverty rate since 2000. Across the country, however, 1 in every 5 children still lived below the poverty line in 2013.
Both short and long term factors have added to the challenges faced by low and moderate income households. In the near term, budget cuts due to sequestration as well as other austerity measures at the federal level during 2013 significantly reduced overall economic growth, likely impacting job and income growth. Over the long term, in a decades old trend, the well-being of working families has become increasingly disconnected from growth of the national economy. While workers’ wages rose in lock-step with productivity gains throughout the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, since the late 1970s, wage growth for most U.S. workers has fallen far short of growth in productivity. [See MassBudget’s Labor Day release on workers’ wages and incomes.]
The data in today’s release provide a useful overview of poverty, income, and health coverage on the national level (using Current Population Survey data), as well as health coverage data at the state level (using American Community Survey data). On Thursday (9/18), the Census Bureau will release additional state-level data from the American Community Survey. When that data is released, MassBudget will provide analysis of changes in income, poverty and child poverty levels in Massachusetts.