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Domestic Incomes Suffer Declines

The housing market collapse, historically low interest rates and corporations stingy with dividends helped cut the median household income in two of every three U.S. counties, according to the Census Bureau.

The number of American households that made money from rent, interest or dividends fell by one-third to 24.2 percent between 2000 and 2010.

The census figures capture the lost financial opportunity experienced by Americans during a decade that saw the dot-com bust and then the worst recession since the Great Depression.

There were 31.8 percent fewer New Mexicans with rent, interest or dividend income in 2010 than there were in 2000. There were 32.4 percent fewer Bernalillo County residents with income from those sources.

The plunge in the number of households with dividend, interest or rental income spanned the country, falling to 29.8 percent from 39 percent in 2000 in Manhattan; dropping to 13.1 percent from 23.5 percent in Miami; and declining to 50.3 percent from 69.6 percent in Anchorage.

“Over the last decade, income provided by financial market returns has declined, and pretty meaningfully,” Guy LeBas, chief fixed-income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott in Philadelphia, said in a telephone interview.

The census figures were recently released as part of the five-year version of the American Community Survey, an annual poll of 3.5 million households that replaced the decennial census long-form survey.

In 2000, 16 counties with more than 100,000 households had a majority report they received income from interest, dividends or rentals. Anchorage, where full-time residents last year received an average $1,281 dividend from a state fund created by oil revenue, was the only one in 2010.

Nationwide, median household income fell to $51,914, a $2,678 drop over the decade when adjusted for inflation. New Mexico’s median income rose 1.5 percent, to $45,098.

Nationally, black households lost the most, with median household income falling 8 percent to $35,194. Hispanics reported $41,354, a 5.5 percent drop. The figure for white, non-Hispanic households fell to $56,466, a 4.3 percent decrease over the decade. Asian households reported $68,950, a 2.2 percent gain.

Households in traditionally affluent areas, showed median income losses over the decade. The greatest declines occurred in Great Lakes states and southern Appalachia.

Journal staff contributed to this report.