School Finance
September 21, 2006

Census Releases New Data on Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage

On August 29, the United State Census Bureau released new data on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. Real median household income (adjusted for inflation) rose by 1.1 percent between 2004 and 2005, rising to $46,326. The poverty rate for the nation remained statistically unchanged at 12.6 percent. And, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage rose from 15.6 percent to 15.9 percent (46.6 million people).

These findings are found in the Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coveragein the United States; 2005 report. The data for the report were compiled from information collected in the 2006 Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the Current Population Survey.

The Census Bureau also released tabulations of economic data from the 2005 American Community Survey (ACS). This survey provides timely and updated information about the nation's changing and diverse population every year. The data are available for nearly 7,000 areas including, for the first time, all congressional districts, counties, cities and American Indian/Alaska native areas of 65,000 population or more. Without this new report, this type of information — previously gathered just once a decade — would not be available for communities until 2012.

The major differences between the Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey are listed below:


Current Population Survey

American Community Survey

Principal Purpose

Estimates of income, poverty, and
health insurance coverage.

Detailed socio-economic data annually replacing the once a decade long form. Data on units of government with more than 65,000 people.

Sample size/time

100,000 addresses by phone or
personal visit/three-month survey.

3 million addresses a year by phone or personal visit. Data collected throughout the year.

In the new American Community Survey data are provided for all geographies with populations of 65,000 or greater – nearly 7,000 entities. By comparison, last year's data measured only areas with populations of 250,000 or greater, or about 900 entities. The Census plans to release data in each passing year for smaller and smaller areas. By 2008, the Census Bureau will be able to release data for areas of 20,000 or more, and by 2010 for all geographic areas, down to the census tract and block level.

In this new American Community Survey, it is possible to have data on a selected number of school districts in New York State. The data includes both social and economic. There are instances where some districts have more data than others. The districts include:

Albany New Rochelle

Brentwood Newburgh

Buffalo New York City

East Ramapo Rochester

Greece Sachem

Kenmore – Tonawanda Syracuse

Middle Country Wappingers

Mount Vernon Yonkers

The American Community Survey ranks New York State #15 among the states on median household income in 2005 at $49,480.

The same survey places New York State at #19 among the states on the percent of people below the poverty level in the past 12 months in 2005. The percentage is 13.8 percent which amounts to 2.5 million people in New York State.

Finally, the Current Population Survey for 2005 places New York State's percentage of people without health insurance coverage at 13.3 percent. Some 31 states have a higher percentage of people not covered by health insurance than New York State does.

Both of the reports discussed above are a veritable treasure trove of social and economic data. By far, the most interesting report is the new American Community Survey. By going to
, the data for New York State, its counties, and selected jurisdictions can be easily obtained.

Note: The data from the American Community Survey and the Current Population Survey should not be compared. The data are obtained in different ways and over different time periods for each of the surveys.


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