Even as the economy shows signs of improvement and poverty levels off, new US census data suggests the gains are halting and uneven. Depending on education, race, income, and even marriage, not all segments of the population are seeing an economic turnaround.
Poverty is on the rise in single-mother families. More people are falling into the lowest-income group. And, after earlier signs of increased mobility, fewer people are moving as homeownership declined for a fifth straight year.
"We're in a selective recovery," said William H. Frey, a Brookings Institution demographer who analysed the numbers.
The annual US survey of socioeconomic indicators covers all of last year, representing the third year of a post-recession rebound.
The figures, released yesterday, also show a slightly faster pace of growth in the foreign-born population, which increased to 40.8 million, or 13 per cent of the US. Last year's immigration increase of 440,000 people was a reversal of a 2011 dip in the influx, when many Mexicans already in the US opted to return home.
Many of the newer immigrants are now higher-skilled workers from Asian countries such as China and India. The number of immigrants in the US with less than a high-school diploma, who make up the bulk of the total foreign-born population, fell slightly in 2012 to 10.8 million. Immigrants with bachelor's degrees or higher rose by more than 4 per cent to 9.8 million.
In all, 21 states saw declines last year in their Hispanic foreign-born population, led by New Mexico, Illinois, and Georgia.