WASHINGTON — American families have seen their income rise an average 5% in the past year as more mothers are taking jobs and fewer families are experiencing total unemployment, the Labor Department said Tuesday.
The usual median income reported by families the first three months of this year was $557 per week, up from $531 the same quarter in 1986, the department's Bureau of Labor Statistics said.
While there were 834,000 more families in the country than a year ago, the number experiencing total unemployment declined by 250,000 to 6.2 million, the bureau said after sampling nearly 60,000 households.
Only 3% of the families with members in the labor force experienced total unemployment the first three months of this year, down from 3.2% the same quarter in 1986, the bureau said.
However, there were wide differences among racial and ethnic groups. Total unemployment in white families was 2.5%, but among blacks it was 7.3% and among Latinos it was 13.8%.
Incomes among those groups also varied widely, with white families reporting a weekly median of $578, blacks $399 and Latinos $412.
The number of married-couple families in which both spouses worked jumped by almost 1 million to 23.6 million. Nearly 47% of married couples reported both spouses holding jobs, up from 45% just a year ago.
The median income of those dual-earner households was $737 per week, compared to $395 for couples with only one spouse and no children working.
The bureau's data showed that more children are taking jobs to supplement family incomes.
The number of families with both husband and wife and at least one child working in the past year increased by 161,000, to 3.35 million--10% of all married-couple families. Naturally, those families had the highest income, averaging $999 a week the first three months of this year.
Families headed by women without husbands had an unemployment rate of 7.4% during the first three months of 1987, down from 7.8% a year earlier.