Are the American people better off than they were 2 1/2 years ago? The short answer from the Census Bureau is no.

Here are a few highlights from the Census report on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2010 (PDF):

  • Real median household income was $49,445 in 2010, a 2.3 percent decline from 2009.
  • Since 2007, the year before the most recent recession, real median household income has
    declined 6.4 percent and is 7.1 percent below the median household income peak that occurred in 1999.
  • The official poverty rate in 2010 was 15.1 percent—up from 14.3 percent in 2009. This was the third consecutive annual increase in the poverty rate. Since 2007, the poverty rate has increased by 2.6 percentage points, from 12.5 percent to 15.1 percent.
  • In 2010, the percentage of people without health insurance, 16.3 percent, was not statistically different from the rate in 2009. The number of uninsured people increased to 49.9 million in 2010 from 49.0 million in 2009.

Elections are often referendums on the general state of the economy. The electorate tends to decide whether or not to remove the incumbent party from power based on how well the economy is doing. Americans voters, for the most part, decide whether or not to keep a president based on the answer to a simple question like, “Are you better off than you were four years ago?”

Since January of 2009, when President Obama took office, the American people as a whole are noticeably worse off financially. This is a serious problem for the Obama campaign, and why they desperately need strong economic growth between now and the election.

Looking at these numbers from the Census, I can only shake my head again in utter dismay that Obama actually chose to have the Affordable Care Act not expand coverage until after the next presidential election.

Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at