The U.S. Census Bureau has reported a decline in median household incomes throughout the United States, but an increase in median earnings for certain workers during the COVID-19 pandemic (Photo by Ivan from Pexels)
NATIONWIDE — The United States Census Bureau (USCB) has reported that median household incomes declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Income statistics that were released on Sept. 14 by the USCB from the Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC) show that there was 2.9 percent decline in American median household incomes between 2019 and 2020, with a 1.2 percent decline in median earnings.
Despite this decrease, the data also showed that real median earnings for full-time, year-round employees increased 6.9 percent during the same reporting period.
The USCB reports that the antecedent behind why wages increased for certain workers while median household incomes decreased can be found in examining the data as to what workers were more vulnerable to losing their employment during the pandemic.
The CPS ASEC shows that there was an uneven and significant impact on the American labor market during the pandemic. As a result, there were 13.7 million fewer full-time, year-round jobs in 2020 than 2019. There is a stark note that the members of the workforce most impacted are those who made less than $52,000 a year, which is noted by the USCB to be the median income for full-time workers in 2019.
Additionally, those earning less than the above noted median income accounted for approximately 84 percent in the total decline in full-time, year-round employment in 2020.
In a Sept. 14 release from the USCB, it states, “It was the larger employment decline of these lower wage jobs compared to the employment decline from the higher wage jobs that drove the increase in median earnings from those still employed full-time, year-round in 2020.”
The largest bracket of income earned impacted by this were those making $20,000 to $24,999 and those earning $25,000 to $29,999. This accounted for a sharp 14.8 percent and 13.4 percent respectively of the employment decline during the reported period.
Data also showed that certain occupations saw this decline. Food preparation and serving-related saw a 12.5 percent decline, sales accounted for 9.8 percent, office and administrative support reported a decline of 9.7 percent and transportation and material moving accounted for 9.5 percent. The average median hourly wage for these positions was $18 an hour.
Of the low wage earning industries, the one that saw the least impact was the farming/fishing/forestry industry, which has a median hourly income of $14. This industry only saw a .7 percent decrease.
However, professions earning a much higher hourly wage saw little to no impact during the pandemic. These industries include legal, life/physical/social science, and community/social service. Interestingly, computer and mathematical science saw a -0.3 percent during this reporting period. The average hourly income for these professions was approximately $36.
The industry that saw the greatest impact during the pandemic was leisure and hospitality, which saw a startling 24.3 percent decrease.
The USCB reports that the the decrease in the food preparation and serving occupations as well as the leisure and hospitality industry is the impact that the pandemic had on these business, with many shuttering during the reporting period.
The Sept. 14 release states, “[Our] analysis shows that the decrease in full-time, year-round employment among these low-wage workers was large enough to substantially change the composition of full-time, year-round workers, which explains why median earnings for full-time, year-round workers increased last year while median earnings for all workers fell.”
For more information on this and other reports, please visit the website for the United States Census Bureau.