Census figures show slow income climb in Watauga
Watauga County's population has increased over the last few years after a period of leveling off, though median incomes are only about three percent higher they were at the turn of the century.
However, median family income has risen at the same time the poverty rate has risen.
The U.S. Census Bureau recently released its "American Community Survey"data, a snapshot based on estimates of various data that help gauge the changes in states, counties and cities.
Watauga County's latest population estimate, for 2008, is at 45,196, an increase of nearly 700 people over the previous year's estimate. Watauga had 42,695 people during the 2000 census count, and the figure leveled out at around 43,200 in the middle of the decade, experiencing a decline of about 150 people in 2006.
Despite the growth and the relatively low unemployment rates, Watauga's median income hasn't changed much since the last census. In 2000, the median household income was $32,611, and that averaged, $33,040 a year between 2005 and 2007. Median family income increased, though, from $45,508 in 2000 to $53,786 in 2005-07. That compared to a nationwide median family income of more than $60,000.
Nearly 23 percent of Watauga residents lived below the federal poverty level from 2005 to 2007, compared to 17.9 percent in 2000.
The number of families living in poverty rose from 7.2 percent to 11 percent over the same period. The national average was 9.9 percent.
The average home value rose from $139,300 in 2000 to $190,000 in 2005-07. Housing values nationwide fell about 2 percent between 2007 and 2008. North Carolina was one of seven states that didn't see a decrease in housing values last year.
Next year marks the next full census count, which takes place every 10 years.