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Decade of decline: Data show deep impact of poor economy


by Tim Anderson ~ October 2011 ~ Stateline Midwest

Mirroring the story they tell at the national level, new U.S. Census Bureau data on measures of economic prosperity show a steep rise in poverty and a decline in household incomes in the Midwest over the past decade. A look at state-by-state figures, too, show parts of the region faring worse than the country as a whole.
For example, in 2000, every state in the Midwest had a poverty rate lower than the U.S. average. Ten years later, three states in the eastern part of the region — Indiana, Michigan and Ohio — had higher-than-average rates. Minnesota, which in 2000 had the nation’s smallest percentage of people living in poverty, has experienced a near-doubling of its rate.
Another key indicator of economic prosperity is median household income. Nationally, inflation-adjusted income fell 7 percent between 2000 and 2010. But as the map on this page shows, incomes fell more sharply in parts of the Midwest, including double-digit declines in Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.
In contrast, North Dakota was one of only 11 U.S. states where median household incomes rose between 2000 and 2010. That state’s 12.7 percent increase was highest in the nation.
The recent Census data also detail trends in health insurance coverage.
Traditionally, the Midwest has had lower rates of uninsured residents and higher rates of people covered through their employer. That continues to be true. However, for every state in the region, the percentage of people without health coverage rose between 2000 and 2010.
Perhaps most striking — and consequential for state budgets — has been the increasing number of people who rely on Medicaid for coverage. The rate of people getting health care through this state-federal public insurance program nearly doubled in many Midwestern states.
Over the same period, rates of employment-based coverage have fallen. In Michigan, for example, three out of four people were receiving coverage through their employer in 2000. Ten years later, the rate had dropped below 60 percent.