The Census Bureau confirms recession’s effects

A smaller share of Americans married, drove to work alone, owned their own home or moved to a new residence last year than the year before, reports the New York Times.

More lived in overcrowded housing. Property values declined. And fewer immigrants arrived, which meant that for the first time since the beginning of the decade, the total number of foreign-born people in the country did not grow.

Those were among the findings released  in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, a wealth of data comparing the nation’s profile in 2008 with that of 2007.

For example, after rising steadily since 2000, median home values dropped in 2008, and the homeownership rate fell half a point, to 66.6 percent, the lowest since 2002. Among blacks, who have been disproportionately affected by foreclosures, home ownership fell a full point, to 45.6 percent.

Furthermore, in a country where people typically move to take advantage of better job opportunities, those who changed residences fell to 15 percent in 2008, from a recent peak of 16 percent in 2006.

Earlier private and government surveys suggested that immigration was slowing, but these were the first annual census figures showing it to be stagnant.

“We’ve had an economic downturn, and that may well be affecting the attractiveness of the United States as a destination,”  Thomas A. Gryn, a statistician with the bureau’s immigration statistics staff, told the Times.

William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, said: “The general economic malaise in the U.S. has drawn fewer immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere. At the same time, there are increases in high-skilled immigrants from India” and some other Asian countries.

Real median household income declined nationwide, rising in only five states — New York, New Jersey, Kansas, Louisiana and Texas — compared with 33 states in 2007. It ranged from $37,790 in Mississippi to $70,545 in Maryland. Income inequality was highest in metropolitan New York, where the top fifth of households received 20 times as much as the bottom fifth.

Included in the statistics were eye-opening data about housing and households, and the information will appear in my e-newsletter on Friday. For even more data, you can read the Census Bureau’s press release.

According to the Census Bureau, the proportion of people lacking health insurance ranged from 4 percent in Massachusetts to 24 percent in Texas.

Overcrowding, defined as more than 1.51 people per room, afflicted 1.1 percent of households, up from 0.7 percent.

And the proportion of workers who commuted by driving without anyone else decreased slightly, to 75.5 percent from 76.1 percent; it ranged from 54 percent in New York to 83 percent in Alabama. Those who carpooled and those who used public transportation increased a bit.

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Malcolm Carter
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Charles Rutenberg Realty
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