WASHINGTON (AP) — Call it the migration bust. Many of the fast-growing U.S. areas during the housing boom are now yielding some of the biggest income drops in the economic downturn.
Whites and blacks have taken big hits since 2007 in once torrid Sunbelt regions offering warm climates and open spaces, including Florida, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada, according to 2009 census data. Hispanics suffered paycheck losses in many “new immigrant” destinations in the interior U.S., which previously offered construction jobs and affordable housing, such as Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina.
The few bright spots: Washington, D.C., San Jose, Calif., San Francisco and Boston. Their household incomes remained among the highest in the nation last year, partly due to steady demand for government and high-tech work.
“As a whole, the income changes represent a sharp U-turn from the mid-decade gains,” said William H. Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution who reviewed the household income data. “The last two years have left those who couldn't move stuck in place with lower incomes.”
Nationally, the government reported last month that median household incomes dipped to $49,777, the lowest since 1997, with the sharpest drop-offs in the Midwest and Northeast. Broken down by race, blacks had the biggest income losses, dropping to $32,584. They were followed by non-Hispanic whites, whose income fell to $54,461. Asian incomes remained flat at $65,469.
Income among Hispanics edged higher but lagged whites significantly at $38,039.
The findings are part of a broad array of 2009 data released over the past month that have highlighted the impact of the recession — from soaring poverty and a widening gap between rich and poor to record levels of food stamp use.
The Census Bureau posted additional 2009 findings.
• Declining home values. Median values for owner-occupied homes dropped 5.8 percent last year to $185,200. They ranged from a high of $638,300 in San Jose, Calif., to a low of $76,100 in McAllen, Texas. In all, five of the 10 highest property values were located in California, with the rest in New York, Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle and Baltimore.
• Increased welfare payments. About 2.6 percent of U.S. households, or 3 million, received government cash payments for the poor, up from 2.3 percent in 2008. States whose residents received the most aid were Alaska, Maine, Washington and Michigan.
• Growth of college sciences. About 36.4 percent, or 20.5 million, of college graduates in the U.S. had a degree in the science and engineering fields. Five states – California, Maryland, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington – as well as the District of Columbia had science and engineering degrees above 40 percent.
The 2009 figures come from the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey and the American Community Survey, which gathers information from 3 million households. The surveys are separate from the 2010 census.