Inflation in '79 ate up the raises

Americans earned more money in 1979 than the year before, but inflation ate up virtually allof the increase, the Census Bureau said. Median family income rose to $19,680, up 11.6 percent from 1978, but the increase was almost totally offset by an 11.3 percent inflation rate.

The Census Bureau report also showed that 11.6 percent of the population existed on incomes below the poverty level -- 25.2 million people in families with incomes less than $7,412. The bureau said although there were 700,000 more people in the subpoverty income group last year than in 1978, "the number is not considered significantly different in a statisti cal sense." However, more elderly people -- 3.6 million in 1979 compared with 3.2 million in 1978 -- were listed in the subpoverty category.

The report also said income trends for white, black, and Spanish- American families remained about the same in 1979 as the previous year. The median family income was $20,520 for whites, $11,650 for blacks and $14,320 for Spanish-Americans.

The median figure is that point where there are as many families with higher income as there are with lower earnings.

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