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What Can We Learn From the Census: Changes in Household Income During the 2000s

December 15, 2010

The New York Times has released a nice mapping tool on its website which allows users to observe recent data from the U.S. Census in graphical map form. Here is the link. It allows users to access a range of demographic and economic information.

While I’ve only had time to quickly play around with it, the above picture tells us a story about income changes in the last decade. What we see is almost across the board income reduction. This fall in income is the worst in the southern states and the great lakes region, the heavy manufacturing bases of the United States. After the 1980s heavy manufacturing slowly moved away from the northern great lakes region, establishing new plants in the south where the population was more predisposed to anti-union sentiment and labor costs were resultantly cheaper. In my work, I have come across many instances of plants being moved from North to South for this specific reason.The process in which this is normally done is that a new plant is built in the South while an old one is closed in the North.

However it appears that during the 2000’s much of the manufacturing base in America decreased in both the North and the South. While this may be due to technological progress, or exposure to competition from low-income countries, the story that this picture tells is a bad one for the median employee and household.

Analysis

Here is a follow-up post by me with a little analysis.

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