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More people earning $75,000 and above but most people lose purchasing power

reporters@samoanews.com

The number of American Samoa households with income of $75,000 or above has more than doubled from 2000 to 2010. (see chart)

There were 916 households in American Samoa that took in at least $75,000 when the 2010 census takers did their work two years. Ten years earlier, only 397 households did so well.

In 2010, households with at least $75,000 in income accounted for almost 10% of American Samoa’s households. Ten years earlier, the households with that much income accounted for only 4%.

The 2010 census also shows that about half the households with incomes of at least $75,000 took in less than $100,000, while 449 households took in $100,000 or more. The census has not yet released figures showing any further breakout.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the scale, the number of households earning less than $15,000 took a sharp drop from 2000 to 2010, which is good news.

Whereas in 2000 there were almost 3,900 households in that low income category, in 2000 the number had dropped to less than 3,000 households.

Thus the percentage of very low income households in the community dropped from 42% to 31%.

Of course, $10,000 in 2000 purchased a lot more goods and services than the same amount of money in 2010, so the fact that there are 900 fewer households at that low level doesn’t mean that things are much better for the low income households in the territory.

The number of households earning between $15,000 and $25,000 was unchanged from 2000 to 2010, but the buying power of those households, like all households, dropped about 70% over the decade, so by staying still, those middle-income households experienced a decrease in their purchasing power.

The number of “middle-class” households earning between $25,000 and $50,000 grew from 2000 to 2010, and now encompass about 27% of all households in the territory.

In 2000, half of all households had incomes that were less than $18,200 and half had incomes that were higher than $18,200. By 2010, the median household income mark (half above and half below) had risen to about $23,500. While that sounds good, in reality the 29% increase in the median income was far less than the 72% increase in the cost of living over the decade, meaning that the purchasing power of the vast majority of American Samoa households declined significantly.

Moreover, things have probably gotten worse since the census was taken in April 2010, as local prices have gone up due to higher utility and freight costs, but local wages have been stagnant.

In the rest of the US, median household income rose 20% from 2000 to 2010, but after adjusting for inflation, US median household purchasing power fell by 8%.

Household Income

2000 census

2010 Census

Less than $10,000

2,344

1,773

$10,000 to $15,000

1,535

1,203

$15,000 to $25,000

2,079

2,048

$25,000 to $50,000

2,255

2,648

$50,000 to $75,000

739

1,100

$75,000 and above

397

916

Total number of households

9,349

9,688

Note: Due to inflation and increases in the cost of living, a person in American Samoa needed $1.72 in 2010 to have the same purchasing power as provided by $1.00 in 2000.

Sources: 2010 U.S. Census, 2011 ASG Statistical Yearbook.



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