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Data Show State Income Stabilizing


September 20, 2012

While Connecticut's workers and families were certainly not as well off in 2011 as they were in 2008, at least the ship stopped taking on water.

According to new data from the U.S. Census bureau released Thursday, the typical Connecticut family's income was flat between 2010 and 2011, once inflation was taken into account, at about $83,100.

By comparison, from 2009 to 2010, Connecticut's median family income fell by about $3,400.

Much of the country was in the same position last year.

"It's treading water; better that than sinking," said Nick Perna, an economist who consults for Webster Bank and teaches at Yale University.

Perna also noted that the calmness of the financial waters here is better than most other states. Connecticut has exceptionally high incomes, and exceptionally low poverty. Statewide, 10.9 percent of residents lived below the poverty line, up from 10.1 percent last year.

"Despite some years of decline in real income and purchasing power, we're still an affluent place," Perna said.

Only Maryland has a higher median family income. Only New Hampshire, Maryland and New Jersey have a lower proportion of people in poverty.

Nearly every metro area with more than a million people has a higher share of people living in poverty than Greater Hartford does. In Hartford and its suburbs, 11.6 percent of people lived below the poverty line in 2011, making it 47th out of 51 large metro areas. In 2010, it was in 50thplace.

Amy DiMauro, 32, said she's not surprised by either trend. "I'm a social worker, so I see a lot of poverty," she said, but added, "among my friends and family, things are pretty stable, maybe some slight improvements."

DiMauro, of Glastonbury, says lots of people she knows have been getting small raises, just about enough to keep up with the cost of living.

Connecticut income peaked in 2008, when the median family income was the equivalent of $88,400 in today's dollars.

Perna said the recent data contradict the conventional wisdom that the rich keep getting richer and that the middle class is being hollowed out. About 30 percent of Connecticut households live on incomes from $50,000 and $100,000, and that proportion has stayed steady in the last five years. What has changed is that before the recession, 17 percent made between $75,000 and $100,000 and about 13 percent made between $50,000 and $75,000 now those percentages have flipped.

Even as the average family has not recovered from the recession, DiMauro said she's better off than she was four years ago.

"We bought a house three years ago, we moved to a better school system, my partner and I both got promotions at work, our salaries increased," she said. "I definitely am [better off], but I don't know about everybody else."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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