Inside these posts: Census Bureau

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Census: 13% of all U.S. homes are vacant

A vacant home in Ford Heights, Ill., April 27, 2009. (David Pierini/Chicago Tribune)

The national vacancy rate crept up to just over 13 percent according to last week’s decennial census report. That’s up from 12.1 percent in 2007.

Maine had the highest proportion of empty housing stock, at 22.8 percent. Other states with gluts of empty houses included Vermont (20.5 percent), Florida (17.5 percent), Arizona (16.3 percent) and Alaska (15.9 percent). Illinois was among those states with the lowest vacancies. Get the full story »

Why inflation hurts more than it did in the 80s

Inflation spooked the nation in the early 1980s. It surged and kept rising until it topped 13 percent. These days, inflation is much lower. Yet to many Americans, it feels worse now. And for a good reason: Their income has been even flatter than inflation.

Back in the ‘80’s, the money people made typically more than made up for high inflation. In 1981, banks would pay nearly 16 percent on a six-month CD. And workers typically got pay raises to match their higher living costs. No more. Get the full story »

Black-owned businesses grow in number, not size

While the number of black-owned businesses are on the rise, 94 percent of them have no paid employees, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business owners released Tuesday.

At the same time, 87 percent of those businesses pull in less than $50,000 per year in revenue. Get the full story »

Census says Illinois poverty rate up 24% since 1999

The poverty level in Illinois increased 24 percent over the past decade — to 13.3 percent in 2009, according to new data released by the U.S. Census Bureau this morning.

Number of Americans in poverty jumps to 43.6M

The ranks of the working-age poor climbed to the highest level since the 1960s as the recession threw millions of people out of work last year, leaving one in seven Americans in poverty.

The overall poverty rate climbed to 14.3 percent, or 43.6 million people, the Census Bureau said Thursday in its annual report on the economic well-being of U.S. households. The report covers 2009, President Barack Obama’s first year in office.

Bye, McMansion. Americans go for smaller homes

AGreyson Properties employee walks in front of a Western Springs home his company built. (Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribune)

Toll the bell for the McMansion. After years of growth, the Census Bureau recently reported that median new home size fell to 2,135 square feet in 2009 after peaking at more than 2,300 earlier in the decade.

“Home buyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage,“ said Steven Pace of the North Carolina-based Pace Development Group, which builds both custom and tract houses ranging in price from below $250,000 to more than $2 million. Get the full story »