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Ronald Reagan. Photo - public domain Ronald Reagan. Photo - public domain  

Median household income less than in 1989

Middle-class families of today make less than middle-class families of almost a quarter a century ago, according to the Washington Post.

Census Bureau data on income and poverty shows that the real median household income, meaning a family’s total earnings, in inflation-adjusted dollars, was higher in 1989 than it was in 2012.

Near the end of the Reagan era, a middle of the road family brought home $51,681 in today’s dollars. In 2012, the average family made $51,017.

That slight decline hasn’t all happened in a straight line. After a dip in the early 1990s, incomes of middle-class families continued to see their incomes rise until peaking at $56,000 in the last decade.

But beginning with the recession in 2007, America’s middle class incomes have decreased or stagnated.

The Census Bureau also followed income trends among different racial and ethnic groups. Although Asians did not completely escape the woes of the Great Recession, their real earnings have significantly increased since the Census first started tracking them in the mid-1980s. In 2012 Asians had the highest median income out of all the races, bringing in an annual $68, 636.

White non-Hispanics showed the second highest median household earnings in 2012, with an income of $57, 007.

Far below Asians and white non-Hispanics sat Hispanics and African Americans. Hispanic households (of all races) brought home a median $39,005 in 2012. African American households made less than half of what the average Asian household earned, with $33,321 in annual income.

African Americans and Hispanics have also suffered the most economically since the late ’90s. The annual median income for African Americans has decreased by 15.8 percent since 1999. Hispanics have a median income that is 11.8 percent lower than it was in 1999.

According to the Census data, stable families enjoy an income advantage. The 2012 report showed that households headed by married couples had the highest earnings, averaging $75,694. Family households maintained by women with no husband present had the lowest annual income of $34,002.

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