The Census Bureau has just issued its latest annual report, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020,” and American Enterprise Institute economist and blogger Mark Perry has extracted and summarized its highlights, as he does every year.
Perry’s work is always illuminating because the data shows how much healthier the country is socially and economically than anyone would believe who listens to the naysayers on the left, who want to transform America into a giant, socialist welfare state.
Contrary to what we hear from Democrats and the left-leaning media, Americans continue to move up and earn more.
And those who don’t fail to do so for reasons that are entirely in their control, as I will explain later.
In 2020, 33.6% of American households had income of $100,000 or more, 40.3% had income between $35,000 and $100,000, and 26.2% had income of less than $35,000.
In 1967, only 10.9% of American households had earnings of $100,000 or more (in constant, inflation-adjusted dollars). That is, from 1967 to 2020, the percentage of American households earning $100,000 or more has tripled!
Compared with 1967, the percentage of middle-income earning households — $35,000 to $100,000 — has shrunk, 53.9% in 1967 compared with 40.3% in 2020.
The percentage of middle-income households has shrunk because more households have moved into the upper-income category.
The percentage earning $35,000 has shrunk from 35.2% in 1967 to 26.2% in 2020.
Perry then drills down into the data and looks at household income and household demographics to see how they correlate.
“Specifically, high-income U.S. households have more income-earners on average than lower-income households, and individuals in high-income households are far more likely on average than individuals in low-income households to be well-educated, married, working full-time, and in their prime earning years. In contrast, individuals in lower-income U.S. households are far more likely than Americans in higher-income households to be less-educated, working part-time, either very young (under 35 years) or very old (over 65 years), and living in single-parent or single-member households.”
We get a much different picture here than the message that politically correct woke culture, which has attained such influence over recent years, has transmitted.
Any individual’s fate in America is very much in their own hands and the result of how much personal responsibility they want to take in their own life.
Major factors that correlate with earning power — education, work, family — start with personal decisions and personal responsibility.
Readers might recall the incident I reported last year when my organization, CURE, posted billboards in various low-income communities saying that if you want to get out of poverty — finish school, go to work and get married.
Black Lives Matter protested and got the billboard company to remove our message.
That’s not to say that there is not public policy work that needs to be done. But it’s not what we hear from the left. The work to relieve poverty and improve upward mobility is work that removes obstacles for individuals to take personal responsibility for their lives.
Obstacles like our union-controlled, government-controlled public school systems. Parents should control their child’s education, not government and union bureaucrats.
This week, my organization, CURE, is releasing its first State of Black America report, published in partnership with the Claremont Institute.
The report points to the strength of American principles and points to cultural and institutional obstacles that contribute to the perpetuation of poverty — too much government and too much politics — as factors that pull us away from those principles and truths.
The Census Bureau’s “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2020” report shows that America is still working.
It can work even better if we strengthen, not weaken, as the left wants, the great principles of a free nation under God that defined our founding.
Star Parker is President of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the weekly television show “CURE America with Star Parker.”