The state's overall poverty rate and the number of Utahns doing without insurance declined a bit the past year while the median household income ticked up slightly, according to annual census data released today.

The state's poverty rate dipped below 10 percent. But put in context of the past six years, progress toward reducing Utah's poverty rate remains flat, the U.S. Census Bureau reports in its annual American Community Survey of the fiscal status of Americans during the 2007 calendar year.

The number of Utahns without health insurance dropped to about 290,000 from more than 300,000 in 2006, according to survey results. A single-year positive step is offset by the percentage of Utahns without insurance, which now stands at 15 percent. Six years ago, 12.9 percent of Utahns had no health insurance.

Inflation-adjusted median household income improved slightly — to $55,109 — good enough to place Utah 13th nationwide in that category. If data is limited to typical wage-earning households in Utah, income remained stagnant the past year and is almost equal to incomes reported in 2001.

All in all, the data shows Utah pretty much static across the three general categories targeted in the survey. If refined to include race, age and number per household, the local economic picture dims even more.

Factor in the recent economic havoc the past nine months that the survey doesn't take into account and any improvement in annual household income is a fraction of what families are spending due to skyrocketing gasoline and food prices.

The essentially "no news" survey is not good news to local economists and nonprofit advocacy groups.

Despite the track record of continuing improvements in the overall economy since 2001, improvements in the fiscal well-being of Utahns is negligible at best, they told the Deseret News this afternoon. Once again the growth in the economy isn't improving the lives of most Utahns.

"The lack of a substantial increase in incomes over the course of this past economic recovery, along with our failure to reduce poverty show that the benefits of economic growth in Utah have not been broadly shared," economist Allison Rowland said.


E-mail: jthalman@desnews.com