The Census Bureau said that the country's median household income rose slightly faster than inflation last year for the first time in six years, but that the increase isn't due to bigger paychecks.

Both men and women earned less in 2005 than in 2004, but the rise in income is due to family members taking on additional work, or benefiting from investments.

While a 1.1 percent increase in median household income was reported by census officials, median household income -- the annual income at which half of the country's households make more and half make less -- fell 5.9 percent between the 2000 census and 2005, to $46,242, according to sociologists at Queens College. However, the Queens College study found that between the two years studied, 1999 and 2005, there was less economic disparity across the country.

The new data also showed continuing erosion in the percentage of Americans covered by health insurance. In 2005, an estimated 46.6 million people had no coverage, up 1.3 million since 2004. That increased the percentage of Americans without health coverage from 15.6 percent of the population, to 15.9 percent.

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