WASHINGTON — The number of people without health insurance fell by more than 1 million in 2007, the first annual decline since the Bush administration took office, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday. Incomes edged up for the middle class while poverty held steady.
The numbers only went as far as the end of last year, before the current economic downturn started gathering force.
While the overall poverty rate held steady at 12.5 percent, poverty did rise among some groups. Hispanics, children and the foreign-born — demographic categories that overlap considerably — experienced significant increases.
And while the number of uninsured dropped to 45.7 million, down from 47 million in 2006, it was largely because more people were covered through government programs.
The median — or midpoint — household income in Washington state went from $54,149 in 2006 to $55,591 in 2007.
City residents made the most money with median income of $57,903 in Washington’s metropolitan areas, $44,314 in smaller communities and $39,487 in rural areas.
Men in Washington earned a median of $50,269 in 2007 and women averaged $37,454, 74.5 percent of men’s earnings.
Nationally, for the middle class, the median household income rose to $50,233, a modest increase of $665 from the previous year, although it was the third consecutive annual rise.
For example, after adjusting for inflation, last year’s median household income of $50,233 was not significantly different from the figure for 2000, which was $50,557. “The American work force is baking a bigger economic pie, but the slices haven’t grown at all,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.
Overall, the Census found 37.3 million people living in poverty in 2007, of which 13.3 million were children. The poverty level for a four-person family in 2007 was $21,203.
Among age groups, seniors had the lowest poverty rate at 9.7 percent, while children had the highest at 18 percent. The poverty rate for 2006 was 12.3 percent, but the change in 2007 was not statistically significant.