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Business

Median income up, but below 2009 levels

NEW YORK — Median household income has begun to recover over the last two years, but households still have not come close to regaining the purchasing power they had before the financial crisis began, a new study says.

The study, issued Wednesday by two former Census Bureau officials, suggests why many people remain glum even though the economy is growing and unemployment has declined.

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Although inflation-adjusted median annual household income rose to $52,100 in June, from its recent trough of $50,700 in August 2011, it remained $2,400 lower than in June 2009, when the recession ended. This drop, combined with the 1.8 percent decline that occurred during the recession, leaves median household income 6.1 percent, or $3,400, below its level in December 2007, when the economic slump began.

Since the end of the recession, the study said, household income has declined for all but a few population groups. Some of the largest percentage declines occurred for groups whose income was already well below the median, like African-Americans, Southerners, people who did not attend college, and households headed by people under 25.

“Groups with low incomes tended to have steeper declines in income,” said Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, a colleague at Sentier Research, which specializes in analyzing household economic data.

Households headed by people ages 65 to 74 were the only group in the study that experienced a statistically significant increase in post-recession income, helped perhaps by the decision of some older workers to remain in the workforce or reenter it.

The figures, adjusted for changes in the cost of living over time, include income before taxes and exclude capital gains.

The data offers a potential preview of the official Census Bureau statistics on income and poverty for 2012, scheduled to be released next month.

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