Today, the Census Bureau announced its income, poverty and health insurance data for 2005. This data shows a serious erosion of income and health care security for working Americans. In this analysis, income and health insurance information from 2005 is compared to that from 2000 – the year before the last recession – to assess changes over the last five years.
The results are bleak: The number of uninsured Americans increased significantly, climbing to 46.6 million in 2005, up 6.8 million since 2000. Compared to 2000, median income is 2.7 percent lower in real terms, and 5.4 million more are living in poverty.
The small improvement in median income between 2004 and 2005 was insufficient to erase the over $1,800 loss in median income experienced from 2000-2004. Full-time, year round workers also lost ground with median income for men falling by $774 and for women falling by $427.
The Census report confirms that the recovery from the last recession has been weak, echoing other data showing slower than expected growth in employment, output and business investment. These problems did not just happen: they resulted from flawed economic and health policies which force Americans to work more for less. When it returns after Labor Day, this Congress should act to mitigate these problems by passing a straightforward minimum wage increase and extend health funding for programs like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program. Moreover, policy makers should recognize the need for major change, such as providing affordable health care to all Americans and taking action to address growing income inequality.