WASHINGTON (AP) — Even as the economy shows signs of improvement and poverty levels off, new U.S. 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 analyzed the numbers.
The annual U.S. survey of socioeconomic indicators covers all of last year, representing the third year of a postrecession rebound.
The figures, released Thursday, also show a slightly faster pace of growth in the foreign-born population, which increased to 40.8 million, or 13 percent of the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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 percent 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.
The number of Americans in poverty remained largely unchanged at a record 46.5 million. Single-mother families in poverty increased for the fourth straight year to 4.1 million, or 41.5 percent, coinciding with longer-term trends of declining marriage and out-of-wedlock births. Many of these mothers are low income with low education. The share of married-couple families in poverty remained unchanged at 2.1 million, or 8.7 percent.