Census Data Grim on Job, Housing Trends

For most, the only wealth seen from the U.S. Census Bureau is a wealth of bad news.
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BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Statistics released by the U.S. Census on Tuesday give fresh, street-level insight on poverty rates, employment and the housing market.

Among the findings:

Real median household income in the United States fell between 2008 and last year -- decreasing by 2.9%, to $50,221 from $51,726. There was good news for residents of North Dakota, though: It was the only state that had an increase.

More than 14% of the U.S. population had income below their respective poverty rates, and the number of people in poverty increased to 42.9 million. Thirty-one states saw increases in the number and percentage of people in poverty between 2008 and last year. No state had a statistically significant decline in either the number in poverty or the poverty rate.

Work hours in the U.S. fell by about 36 minutes per week, from 39 hours in 2008 to 38.4 hours last year. Workers in construction, extraction, maintenance and repair jobs worked about 63 minutes less per week last year than 2008. The self-employed faced the greatest reduction in work hours, with those in their own unincorporated businesses working 66 minutes less per week and those in their own incorporated businesses working 49 minutes less last year.

The median property value for owner-occupied homes in the United States was $185,200 last year. After adjusting for inflation, this value decreased in the United States by 5.8 percent from 2008. The nation's highest median property values were all in California, including San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara ($638,300), San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont ($591,600), Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana ($463,600), San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos ($417,700) and Sacramento-Arden-Arcade-Roseville ($298,000).

Nationwide, nearly two in five renter households (42.5%) experienced housing costs that consumed 35% or more of their income. This ranged from 23.2% in the Casper, Wyo., metro area to a high of 62.8% in the College Station-Bryan, Texas, metro area. Among the 50 most populous metro areas, Pittsburgh's had the lowest median gross rent ($643). The San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., metro area, with a gross rent of $1,414, was the most expensive rental market.

The 2009 American Community Survey covered more than 40 topics, focused on geographic areas with populations of 65,000 or more.

-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.

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