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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tomorrow, the U.S. Census Bureau will release national and state health insurance data for 2007-2008. The data will provide a preliminary glimpse of the impact that the current recession has had on families in Washington and throughout the nation. The data will not however, capture the full impact of the current economic crisis which deepened dramatically in 2009.

The new Census data is expected to show significant increases in the share of the population that is uninsured since the early 2000’s to 2007-2008. The loss of employer-sponsored health insurance is likely to be the dominant driver behind this trend. During the current recession, the economy sunk rapidly in 2009 and many more people lost their jobs and their health insurance. So while tomorrow’s release will signal trouble, next year’s 2008-2009 health coverage data will undoubtedly be far worse.

For example, as the graph below shows here in Washington the unemployment rate jumped from an average of 5.3 percent in 2008 to 9.1 percent by July 2009. Since the start of 2009, over 64,000 jobs have been lost in the state. As a result, next year’s 2008-2009 data will show a large drop in the number of Washingtonians enrolled in employer-sponsored health coverage.

Stay tuned to schmudget tomorrow when the Budget & Policy Center in conjunction with Washington Kids Count will post an analysis of health coverage trends in Washington using the new Census data. Our analysis will highlight changes in the share of the population without health insurance over time and will detail changes in employer-sponsored coverage and public coverage in Washington State.

Editor’s note: Tomorrow’s release will also include updated data on poverty and median income. To obtain state-level estimates of these measures, however, the Census Bureau recommends using data from a different survey, the American Community Survey (ACS). The latest ACS data for 2008 will be released on September 22, 2009. That morning, the Budget & Policy Center and Washington Kids Count will post analysis of the ACS data on poverty, median income, and health coverage in Washington State.

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