New economic estimates released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau show what most Valley residents already knew: Things were worse in 2008 than they were in 2007. And experts suggest they're even bleaker now.
People earned less money last year, and more of them lived in poverty, according to the Census Bureau's 2008 American Community Survey.
It's a sobering window on the effects of the economic recession that began in late 2007 and continued to take hold across the country in 2008. But economists warn that the current reality has deteriorated further for Valley families.
"It would be remarkable if things were not significantly worse" given the Valley's history of higher unemployment and reliance on agriculture, said VaNee L. Van Vleck, a professor of economics at California State University, Fresno. "This reflects the period before things went south."
The census estimates are based on nationwide surveys and interviews of 3 million households throughout 2007 and 2008.
In Fresno County, the median family income — the midpoint at which half of families make more and half make less — fell by nearly $6,500, to $48,558.
And 22.3% of Fresno County's residents were estimated to be living in poverty — up from 20% in 2007 and third highest in California behind only Imperial County (22.9%) and Merced County (22.5%), and just ahead of Tulare County (21.6%).
Poverty is defined by the federal government based on annual income, with thresholds ranging from $10,991 or less for an individual to $22,025 for a family of four in 2008.
Among families in Fresno County, 17.3% were estimated to be at or below the federal poverty level, up from 15.6% in 2007.
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