One of the best ways to see the impact our social and demographic position has on the options that are available to us is to look at data on the population as a whole and then also to compare numbers for various sub-groups. Every year the U.S. Census releases a report on income and poverty (and in the past couple years they have included health care). This past week the latest report was released. While the full report linked above provides a lot of in-depth information about where we stand, the highlights are available in a press release.

From the full report we learn that median household income for 2004 was $44,389 (which is unchanged from 2003), that the official poverty rate rose to 12.5% (up from 12.1%) meaning 37.0 million people were poor, and that the number of people without health insurance rose to 45.8 million or 15.7% of the population.

Considering the relationship between income and race/ethnicity, white, non-Hispanic households made $48,977 while Black households made about $30,134, Hispanic households made $34,241, and Asian households made $57,518. The poverty rate for White, non-Hispanic families was 8.6%, for Blacks it was 24.7%, for Hispanics it was 21.0% and for Asians it was 9.8%.

Looking at gender, for those working full-time, year-round, median income for women with earnings was $31,223 while for men it was $40,798.

These and other statistics in the report point to the fact that a person’s social position with continues to shape her or his access money.