Marriage, which used to be the default way to form a family in the United States, regardless of income or education, has become yet another part of American life reserved for those who are most privileged.
Fewer Americans are marrying over all, and whether they do so is more tied to socioeconomic status than ever before. In recent years, marriage has sharply declined among people without college degrees, while staying steady among college graduates with higher incomes.
Currently, 26 percent of poor adults, 39 percent of working-class adults and 56 percent of middle- and upper-class adults are married, according to a research brief published today from two think tanks, the American Enterprise Institute and Opportunity America. In 1970, about 82 percent of adults were married, and in 1990, about two-thirds were, with little difference based on class and education.
Brian Sabean, executive vice president of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, says California’s high taxes make it more difficult for his team to compete with teams in other states. During a discussion of the Giants’ lackluster season and the likelihood of shaking up the roster next year, Mr. Sabean told San Francisco Chronicle sports columnist Bruce Jenkins: “Let’s face it, how many free agents are going to come here? They’re not. For two reasons: the ballpark and the California taxes. That’s just a fact.”
The middle class is back — or so it seems.
That’s the message from the Census Bureau’s latest report on “Income and Poverty in the United States.” The news is mostly good. The income of the median household (the one exactly in the middle) rose to a record $59,039; the two-year increase was a strong 8.5 percent. Meanwhile, 2.5 million fewer Americans were living beneath the government’s poverty line ($24,563 for a family of four). The poverty rate fell from 13.5 percent of the population in 2015 to 12.7 percent in 2016.. . . Not all the evidence is upbeat. Here are three sobering takeaways.
First, men’s median wages for full-time, year-round work have stagnated.
. . . Second, the upper middle class is flourishing — but not the lower classes.
. . . Third, almost three-quarters of the rise of Americans living in poverty since 1990 reflects increases in Hispanic poverty — increases linked to immigration, whether legal or illegal.
Median household income in America was $59,039 last year, surpassing the previous high of $58,655 set in 1999, the Census Bureau said. The figure is adjusted for inflation and is one of the most closely watched indicators of how the middle class is faring financially, as the Census surveys nearly 100,000 homes. The Census said the uptick in earnings occurred because so many people found full-time jobs — or better-paying jobs — last year. America's poverty rate also fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
U.S. incomes rose and the poverty rate fell last year, according to the Census Bureau’s annual report on economic well-being. The authoritative survey showed continuing progress since the 2007-09 recession. By some measures, however, Americans haven’t returned to levels of prosperity achieved nearly two decades ago.