Median household incomes have fallen 8.2 percent since President Obama took office and continue to drop despite the official end of the recession, a new study shows.
Data compiled by Sentier Research found that since the economic recovery technically began in June 2009, median household income has dropped 5.7 percent. As of August, that median income was $50,678 — also down 1.1 percent from the month prior.
And since Obama took office in January 2009, the median income has fallen 8.2 percent, from $55,198 to its present figure.
“The August decline in real median annual household income is indicative of a struggling economy,” Sentier said in its report.
“Even though we are technically in an economic recovery, real median annual household income is having a difficult time maintaining its present level, much less ‘recovering.’”
The figures continue to paint a dim portrait of the nation’s post-recession economic rebound, and are sure to factor into the robust economic debate on the campaign trail.
At a rally in Westerville, Ohio, on Wednesday, Mitt Romney challenged protesters at the site, asking them if they really wanted “four more years” of trillion-dollar deficits and declining take-home pay.
Obama continues to hold onto a lead in several swing state polls, though. A poll Wednesday from Quinnipiac University/CBS News/New York Times showed Obama leading in Ohio by 10 points even as roughly half the voters surveyed listed the economy as their most important issue.
The nation’s unemployment rate has dropped from its peak at more than 10 percent to 8.1 percent in August.
But the drop belies persistent problems in the economy. Many are leaving the workforce or settling for part-time work — the latter of which helps explain why unemployment rates are going down while median income falls. Sentier noted in its study that changes in hourly earnings and hours worked affects the household income level.
According to the study, the average number of hours per week worked in August was 34.4 — slightly below the 34.6 hour average in December 2007.
The income figures, which are based on Census data, follow a Census report showing the poverty rate in 2011 at 15 percent. The number of people in poverty last year was 46.2 million, up from 37.3 million in 2007 before the start of the recession. The poverty line for a family of four was defined by the Census in 2011 as a household salary of just over $23,000.
The household income level has not been declining every month. Sentier’s report showed several monthly increases in late 2011, followed by another drop at the beginning of 2012.