Census: Local Families Losing Income

Cincinnati Enquirer - September 22, 2011
   

The Cincinnati Enquirer

Families in Greater Cincinnati and Northern
Kentucky are losing income, putting many
household earnings below where they were
in 1999.

Latest U.S. Census Bureau numbers show
that the region’s median income in 2010
was $51,572 – down nearly 6 percent
from 2007, before the recession ravaged
the workplace. Incomes, which are
adjusted for inflation, were down in every
nearby county except for Clermont, which
saw a 2 percent bump.

Compared to 1999, median incomes
dropped more than 10 percent in most
counties.

The local numbers mirror the national
trend. Among key factors behind the
declines: High levels of unemployment and
part-time work.

Nationally, one of every three men was
working part-time in 2010. Since 2007,
the number of full-time workers fell by 6.6
million for men and 2.8 million for women.

The region’s unemployment rate, which
was 8.7 percent in August, averaged 9.7
percent in 2010. Nationally, unemployment
averaged 9.6 percent in 2010. It was 9.1
percent in August.

The annual census estimates underscore
just how weak the economic recovery has
been, says Amy Hanauer, executive
director with Policy Matters Ohio, a
Cleveland-based research and advocacy group.

“When you see numbers as bad as this,
and you have unemployment as high as it is
– it’s clear that we don’t have enough jobs
or enough good-paying jobs,” Hanauer
said.

The region’s unemployment rate has
improved this year, but the number of
people working for less money or fewer
hours remains high, says Janet Harrah,
director of Northern Kentucky University’s
Center for Economic Analysis and
Development.

One in six people in Ohio and Kentucky
from mid-2010 to mid-2011 were
underemployed – meaning they were
working part-time, but wanted a full-time
job, federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data
shows.

At more than 15 percent, the
underemployment rates were six points
higher than unemployment levels in both
states during that same period.

“The average hours worked per week
declined through the recession, and while
they’ve rebounded from the low, they are
still below where they were before the
recession,” Harrah said. “Also, among those
people who didn’t lose their jobs, many
haven’t seen raises.”

George Vredeveld, director of the
University of Cincinnati’s Economics Center,
called the steep declines since 1999 “very
surprising.”

“It’s a really significant fall-off, and it’s not
a sign of a vibrant economy,” he said.
Still, Harrah said the declines aren’t too
unexpected considering the events of the past decade.

“In the 1990s we had a very robust
economy that was driven by the tech
bubble, but when that burst most of the
impact rolled over into the 2000 decade,”
she said. “Then we also had two
recessions, 9/11, and the housing bubble
burst. That’s a lot for an economy to
absorb in a decade.”

Through the turmoil, companies turned to
innovation and technology to help increase
profitability, she said.

“What we have now is a significant portion
of our workforce that wants to work, but
they don’t have the skills for the jobs
available,” she said.

Without a comprehensive, governmentbacked
jobs plan and tax reform, the
trend of falling incomes won’t be curbed,
said Policy Matters’ Hanauer.

“Our economy has grown in the last
decade. There is more wealth and income
overall – it’s just not going to working
families,” she said

 


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