Native Americans still poorest in United States
- Native Americans still poorest in United States
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Income levels have risen and poverty rates have stabilized but Native
Americans remain the poorest in the nation, according to figures released
by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday.
From 2004 to 2005, the average American household earned $46,326, an
increase of 1.1 percent. It was the first time since 1999 that the median
household income rose, the Census said.
But incomes for American Indian and Alaska Native homes remained well
below the rest of the nation. Based on a three-year average from 2003 to
2005, the median income was $33,627, lower than incomes for white, Asian
and Hispanic households.
Only African-American households, with a median income of $31,140, ranked
below Native households.
Turning to poverty, 2005 marked the first time that poverty rates have not
risen. For four consecutive years, the Census has reported an increase in
the number of Americans living below the poverty line.
Despite the stabilization, there are still 37 million people, or 12.6
percent of the population, and 7.7 million families in poverty. Among
American Indians and Alaska Natives, the picture was much worse.
According to a three-year average of data, 25.3 percent of Native
Americans are living in poverty. This was actually a slight increase from
the 24.3 percent that the Census reported in its last report on income and
The figure translated to 537,00 American Indians and Alaska Natives who
were below the poverty line. As defined by the Office of Management and
Budget, the poverty threshold for a family of four in 2005 was $19,971;
for a family of three, $15,577; for a family of two, $12,755; and for
unrelated individuals, $9,973.
The report, "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United
States: 2005," also contained figures on health insurance coverage. The
Census said the number of people with and without insurance rose from 2004
Nearly 30 percent of American Indians and Alaska Natives, or about 661,000
people, were uninsured, according to the data. This was statistically
unchanged from figures released last year.
Only Hispanics had a higher uninsured rate of 32.7 percent, again the same
as the year prior.
The Census used to count people whose only source of care was the Indian
Health Service as insured. But since 1988, IHS-only patients are
"The effect of this change on the overall estimates of health insurance
coverage was negligible," the report stated.
The figures released yesterday were open to interpretation by Democrats
and Republicans. Democratic leaders said it was proof that President
Bush's administration hasn't done anything to improve the lives of
Republicans said immigrants are to blame for the lack of significant
improvement. But people who weren't born in the United States still had
higher income levels and higher rates of insurance coverage than Native
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