Mobility

BACK TO THE STATE OF OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA FULL REPORT.
For more information on the methodology used, please visit this page. This data was most recently updated on January 28, 2010.

Every person in America should be able to fulfill his or her full potential through effort and perseverance. Where a person starts in life economically, geographically, or socially should neither dictate nor limit his or her progress and achievement. In terms of individual median income, the overall population and all racial/ethnic and gender groups experienced significant declines. Median family income saw similar declines – all groups experienced a decline, except Latino families, whose median family income did not significantly change. Furthermore, while the proportion of total domestic assets minus liabilities that were held by low- and upper-income households did not significantly change, the proportion of total domestic assets minus liabilities held by lowest-income households and middle-income households significantly decreased.

Education is also a key indicator for mobility. Regarding all education indicators except for college affordability, opportunity increased during the time period assessed. Although high school degree attainment did not significantly change for most groups, it did increase significantly for Latinos. High school dropout rates for the overall population and all groups decreased as well. College degree attainment increased overall and for all groups. However, college affordability–for both public and private colleges and universities–significantly declined.

Our overall assessment indicates that opportunity for mobility was mixed for the years examined.

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Education
Wealth and Income
Homeownership

Education
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

College Affordability: measures the change in the average cost of tuition, fees, room and board at private and public 4-year institutions annually in 2008 dollars.1

Down Arrow

From 1998-99 to 2008-2009, the total, annual cost of college education at 4-year private and public institutions significantly increased, meaning opportunity in this area declined.

Private Colleges and Universities

  • 2008-2009: $34,132 per year
  • 1998-1999: $27,580 per year
  • Change: cost increased 23.8%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Public Colleges and Universities

  • 2008-2009: $14,333 per year
  • 1998-1999: $10,471 per year
  • Change: cost increased 36.9%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

High School Degree Attainment: measures the number and percentage of individuals between the ages of 25 and 29 who have received a high school diploma or equivalent .2

Up Arrow

Between 2007 and 2008, high school degree attainment between the ages of 25 and 29 did not significantly change for the overall population or most groups. However, it increased significantly for Hispanics, meaning that opportunity in this area increased.

Overall Population (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 87.8%, or 18.5 million
  • 2007: 87.0%, or 18.0 million
  • Change: rate increased 0.93%, or 0.5 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Men (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 85.8%, or 9.2 million
  • 2007: 84.9%, or 8.9 million
  • Change: rate increased 1.08%, or 0.3 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Women (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 89.9%, or 9.3 million
  • 2007: 89.1%, or 8.1 million
  • Change: rate increased 0.80%, or 0.2 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Whites (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 93.7%, or 11.8 million
  • 2007: 93.5%, or 11.5 million
  • Change: rate increased 0.2%, or 0.3 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Blacks (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 87.6%, or 2.4 million
  • 2007: 87.7%, or 2.3 million
  • Change: rate decreased 0.13%, or 0.1 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Hispanics (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 68.4%, or 2.9 million
  • 2007: 65.0%, or 2.7 million
  • Change: rate increased 5.2%, or 0.2 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

High School Dropout Rate—Overall: measures the status dropout rate, which is the rate of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and who have not completed a high school program regardless of when they left school (Note: only rates were available.)3

Up Arrow

The status dropout rates for the overall population and all groups declined between 2006 and 2007, meaning that opportunity in this area increased.

Overall Population (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 8.7%
  • 2006: 9.3%
  • Change: rate decreased 6.5%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Men (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 9.8%
  • 2006: 10.3%
  • Change: rate decreased 4.9%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Women (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 7.7%
  • 2006: 8.3%
  • Change: rate decreased 7.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Whites (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 5.3%
  • 2006: 5.8%
  • Change: rate decreased 8.6%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Blacks (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 8.4%
  • 2006: 10.7%
  • Change: rate decreased 21.5%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Hispanics (16-24 yr. olds)

  • 2007: 21.4%
  • 2006: 22.1%
  • Change: rate decreased 3.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

High School Dropout Rate by Income: measures the status dropout rate, which is the rate of 16- to 24-year-olds who are not enrolled in school and who have not completed a high school program regardless of when they left school, by income. (Note: only rates were available; parameters of income quartiles were not provided.)4

Up Arrow

Status dropout rates for individuals in the middle-low and highest income quartiles significantly decreased, while they did not change significantly for individuals in the lowest-income and middle-high income quartiles between 2006 and 2007. Therefore, opportunity in this area increased.

Lowest-Income Quartile

  • 2007: 16.7%
  • 2006: 16.5%
  • Change: increased by 1.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Middle-Low Income Quartile

  • 2007: 10.5%
  • 2006: 12.1%
  • Change: decreased by 13.2%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Middle-High Income Quartile

  • 2007: 6.4%
  • 2006: 6.3%
  • Change: decreased by 1.6%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Highest Income Quartile

  • 2007: 3.2%
  • 2006: 3.8%
  • Change: decreased by 15.8%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

College Degree Attainment: measures the number and percentage of individuals between the ages of 25 and 29 who have received at least a bachelor’s degree.5

Up Arrow

The proportion of the overall population and most groups between the ages of 25 and 29 with a bachelor’s degree or higher significantly increased between 2007 and 2008, meaning opportunity increased in this area.

Overall Population (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 30.8%, or 6.5 million
  • 2007: 29.6%, or 6.1 million
  • Change: rate increased 3.8%, or 0.4 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Men (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 26.8%, or 2.9 million
  • 2007: 26.3%, or 2.7 million
  • Change: rate increased 2.0%, or 0.2 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Women (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 34.9%, or 3.6 million
  • 2007: 33.1%, or 3.4 million
  • Change: rate increased 5.5%, or 0.2 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Whites (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 37.1%, or 4.7 million
  • 2007: 35.5%, or 4.4 million
  • Change: rate increased 4.6%, or 0.3 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Blacks (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 20.4%, or 0.55 million
  • 2007: 19.5%, or 0.51 million
  • Change: rate increased 4.6%, or 0.04 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Hispanics (25-29 yr. olds)

  • 2008: 12.4%, or 0.53 million
  • 2007: 11.6% or 0.49 million
  • Change: rate increased 6.6%, or 0.04 million
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
 

 

  1. College Board, Trends in College Pricing, 2008, page 9 available at http://professionals.collegeboard.com/profdownload/trends-in-college-pricing-2008.pdf.
  2. National Center on Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2007 and 2008, Table 9, available at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_009.asp and http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009020.pdf .
  3. National Center on Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2008, Table 109, available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009020.pdf .
  4. National Center on Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2008, Table 110, available at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009020.pdf .
  5. National Center on Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics, 2007 and 2008, Table 9, available at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d07/tables/dt07_009.asp and http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009020.pdf .

 

Wealth and Income
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

Wealth Distribution by Household: the share of aggregate wealth received in 2004 dollars by each fifth and the top 1 percent of households for all races. (Note: quintile limits were not given.)1

Down Arrow

While household wealth shares did not significantly change for low- and upper-income households, the wealth share for the lowest-income households and middle income households significantly decreased between 2001 and 2004, meaning opportunity in this area declined.

Lowest Quintile

  • 2004 Average: -$11,400
  • 2001 Average: -$8,700
  • Change: decreased 31.0%, or $2,700
  • 2004 Share: -0.5% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: -0.4% of all wealth
  • Change: share of negative net wealth increased 25%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Second Quintile

  • 2004 Average: $14,400
  • 2001 Average: $14,900
  • Change: decreased 3.4%, or $500
  • 2004 Share: 0.7% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: 0.7% of all wealth
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Middle Quintile

  • 2004 Average: $81,900
  • 2001 Average: $80,000
  • Change: increased 2.4%, or $1,900
  • 2004 Share: 3.8% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: 3.9% of all wealth
  • Change: share of net wealth decreased 2.6%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Fourth Quintile

  • 2004 Average: $243,600
  • 2001 Average: $229,600
  • Change: increased 6.1%, or $14,000
  • 2004 Share: 11.3% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: 11.3% of all wealth
  • Change: remained constant
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Top Quintile

  • 2004 Average: $1,822,600
  • 2001 Average: $1,711,600
  • Change: increased 6.5%, or $111,000
  • 2004 Share: 84.7% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: 84.4% of all wealth
  • Change: share of net wealth increased 0.36%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Top 1%

  • 2004 Average: $14,791,600
  • 2001 Average: $13,537,800
  • Change: increased 9.3%, or $1,253,800
  • 2004 Share: 34.3% of all wealth
  • 2001 Share: 34.4% of all wealth
  • Change: share of net wealth decreased 0.29%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Income Distribution by Family: the share of aggregate income received in 2008 dollars by each fifth and the top 5 percent of families.2

Income Limits for Quintiles and Top 5 percent in 2008 dollars:3

Lowest income quintile:
≤$27,800 — 2008
≤$27,864 — 2007

Lower-middle income quintile:
$27,800.01 - $49,325 — 2008
$27,864.01 - $49,510 — 2007

Middle income quintile:
$49,325.01 - $75,000 — 2008
$49,510.01 - $75,000 — 2007

Upper-middle income quintile:
$75,000.01 - $113,205 — 2008
$75,000.01 - $112,638 — 2007

Highest income quintile:
$113,205.01 — 2008
$112,638.01 — 2007

Top 5%:
≥$200,000.01 — 2008
≥$197,216 — 2007

Down Arrow

While family income shares did not significantly change for most income quintiles, income shares significantly decreased for the lowest income families and significantly increased for families in the top 5 percent. Therefore, there was a decrease of opportunity in this area.

Lowest Quintile

  • 2008 Average: $15,906
  • 2007 Average: $16,068
  • Change: decreased 1.01%, or $162
  • 2008 Share: 4.0% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 4.1% of all income
  • Change: decreased 2.4%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Lower-Middle Quintile

  • 2008 Average: $38,125
  • 2007 Average: $38,304
  • Change: decreased 0.47%, or $179
  • 2008 Share: 9.6% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 9.7% of all income
  • Change: decreased 1.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Middle Quintile

  • 2008 Average: $61,582
  • 2007 Average: $61,444
  • Change: increased 0.22%, or $138
  • 2008 Share: 15.5% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 15.6% of all income
  • Change: decreased 0.64%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Upper-Middle Quintile

  • 2008 Average: $92,160
  • 2007 Average: $91,881
  • Change: increased 0.30%, or $279
  • 2008 Share: 23.1% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 23.3% of all income
  • Change: decreased 0.86%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Upper Quintile

  • 2008 Average: $190,400
  • 2007 Average: $186,529
  • Change: increased 2.1%, or $3,871
  • 2008 Share: 47.8% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 47.3% of all income
  • Change: increased 1.1%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Top 5%

  • 2008 Average: $326,928
  • 2007 Average: $316,618
  • Change: increased 3.3%, or $10,310
  • 2008 Share: 20.5% of all income
  • 2007 Share: 20.1% of all income
  • Change: increased 2.0%
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Individual Median Income: measures the change in individual income in 2008 dollars for individuals over 15 years of age.4

Down Arrow

Between 2007 and 2008, individual median income decreased overall and for all groups. Therefore, opportunity in this area declined.

Overall

  • 2008: $26,513
  • 2007: $27,648
  • Change: decreased 4.1%, or $1,135
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Male

  • 2008: $33,161
  • 2007: $34,472
  • Change: decreased 3.8%, or $1,311
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Female

  • 2008: $20,867
  • 2007: $21,726
  • Change: decreased 4.0%, or $859
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Whites

  • 2008: $29,006
  • 2007: $30,237
  • Change: decreased 4.1%, or $1,231
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Blacks

  • 2008: $21,923
  • 2007: $22,729
  • Change: decreased 3.5%, or $806
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Hispanics

  • 2008: $20,767
  • 2007: $21,964
  • Change: decreased 5.4%, or $1,197
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Asians

  • 2008: $30,552
  • 2007: $32,061
  • Change: increased 4.7%, or $1,509
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Median Family Income: measures the change in family income in 2008 dollars.5

Down Arrow

Between 2007 and 2008, median family income significantly decreased overall and for all groups. Therefore, opportunity decreased in this area.

Overall

  • 2008: $61,521
  • 2007: $63,712
  • Change: decreased 3.4%, or $2,191
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Whites

  • 2008: $70,070
  • 2007: $72,624
  • Change: decreased 3.5%, or $2,554
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Blacks

  • 2008: $39,879
  • 2007: $41,685
  • Change: decreased 4.3%, or $1,806
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES

Hispanics

  • 2008: $40,466
  • 2007: $40,566
  • Change: decreased 0.25%, or $100
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Asians

  • 2008: $73,578
  • 2007: $80,097
  • Change: decreased 8.1%, or $6,519
  • SIGNIFICANT: YES
 

 

  1. L. Mishel et al., The State of Working America: 2008-2009, Economic Policy Institute, galley edition, 2008. Pg. 267-68.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, “Historical Income Tables – Families” Tables F-2 and F-3. Accessed on 21 October 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/incfamdet.html.
  3. U.S Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, “Historical Income Tables – Families” Table F-1. Accessed on 21 December 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/incfamdet.html.
  4. U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplements, “Historical Income Tables – People” Table P-2 and P-4, Accessed on 21 October 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/incpertoc.html and Table P-4, accessed on 21 October 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/p04.html.
  5. U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, “Historical Income Tables – Family” Table F7, available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/income/histinc/incfamdet.html.

 

Homeownership
Indicator 2009 Update Supporting Data

Homeownership: the rate of homeownership of various subpopulations.1

Stagnant

Between 2007 and 2008, the overall homeownership rate and the various subpopulation homeownership rates did not significantly change, meaning that opportunity in this area remained stagnant.

Overall

  • 2008: 67.8%
  • 2007: 68.1%
  • Change: decreased 0.44%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Whites

  • 2008: 75.0%
  • 2007: 75.2%
  • Change: decreased 0.27%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Blacks

  • 2008: 47.4%
  • 2007: 47.2%
  • Change: decreased 0.42%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Hispanics

  • 2008: 49.1%
  • 2007: 49.7%
  • Change: decreased 1.2
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

Asians or Pacific Islanders/Hawaiian Natives

  • 2008: 59.5%
  • 2007: 60.0%
  • Change: decreased 0.83%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO

American Indians/Alaska Natives

  • 2008: 56.5%
  • 2007: 56.9%
  • Change: decreased 0.70%
  • SIGNIFICANT: NO
 

 

  1. US Census Bureau, Housing Vacancies and Homeownership, “Annual Statistics 2008,” Table 22 Accessed on 21 October 2009 at http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/housing/hvs/annual08/ann08ind.html.