As a group, Idahoans are getting poorer. The median household income fell in 2011 for the third year in a row, the Idaho Department of Labor said Thursday. More Idahoans received public assistance, too.
The department cited new U.S. Census Bureau data showing that the slow recovery from the Great Recession still hurt Idaho households last year. The recession officially began in December 2007 and ended a year and a half later when the contraction of the nation's economy ended. But the growth in Idaho since then has been so weak that joblessness remains high and family incomes have suffered.
Census Bureau estimates released Thursday put median household income in Idaho at $43,341, down 0.3 percent from 2010. Since the recession took a firm grip on Idahos economy in 2008, median household income has dropped 8.9 percent.
According to the state Labor Department:
Only eight other states have posted three straight year of declining median household income, the income level at which half the households bring in more and the other half less. Only Nevada and Georgia recorded larger three-year declines.
The share of Idahoans living in poverty last year rose to 16.5 percent from 15.7 percent in 2010, and the households receiving food stamps rose from 72,000, or 12.5 percent of all households, to more than 78,000, or 13.5 percent, in 2011.
There was good news for Hispanic households. The share of Hispanic households receiving food stamps fell from 20.2 percent to 16.8 percent last year. The percentage of white households receiving food stamps rose slightly from 9.5 percent to 9.6 percent.
One result of the rise in public assistance was an increase in the number of Idahoans with health-insurance coverage. As more people qualified for government health care, 83.5 percent of Idaho's population had some kind of health coverage last year, up from 82.3 percent in 2010.
But a smaller share of Idahoans received private health insurance. Those with private insurance dropped from 67.4 percent of everyone insured in 2010 to 66.9 percent in 2011. Those enrolled in public health care programs rose from 26.9 percent in 2010 to 28.5 percent in 2011.
Here are the Idaho household median incomes for the past five years:
2011: $43,341 2010: $43,490