Ask longtime residents and business owners in middle-class Willingboro why household incomes there have dropped over the decade, and they rattle off a list of reasons.

"There were families with two people working, and now there's only one with a job," said Joyce Stout as she had lunch at a McDonald's on Beverly-Rancocas Road.

"There are also more retired people here now, and they're living on fixed incomes," added her husband, Don.

Keith Tum Suden knows the job-loss problem firsthand. His wife was laid off from her job as a nurse and teacher, and his son was laid off from his Willingboro Township job.

"The economy has been bad," Tum Suden said as he put groceries in his car at the Country Club Plaza.

Willingboro is one of several South Jersey communities that saw median household incomes drop since 2000, according to estimates by the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, released Tuesday.

The new data are an aggregation of interviews done between 2005 and 2009, a five-year period straddling the recession.

Among the 10 municipalities with the biggest income drops in addition to Willingboro were Edgewater Park, Palmyra Borough, Woodland Township, and Maple Shade.

At the same time, some communities saw gains, especially in the edges of the three-county region - in northeastern Burlington County and southern Gloucester County, which enjoyed a building boom during the decade. They were also among the wealthiest - with median income in South Harrison, for instance, at nearly $120,000 and Woolwich at $109,500.

Riverton, in Burlington County, moved up 20 spots in the ranking as the median household income rose from $75,921 to $90,223.

"We have a population where the majority are at good points in their careers," said Borough Councilwoman Suzanne Cairns Wells, a stay-at-home mother of two. "Riverton tends to be a stable community. People move here and stay awhile."

Wells said the period surveyed also coincided with the start of service by the River LINE Light Rail system, making the borough more attractive to commuting professionals.

At the same time, the poorest places stayed poor - and about half of those became poorer. Among the 10 with the lowest incomes in the 2000 Census, seven were in Camden County, and since then only Brooklawn Borough has climbed out of the bottom 10. There, median income in 2000 was $50,977 and rose to an estimated $56,706.

Camden City retained its spot with the lowest household income - $30,150 in 2000. It dropped to $25,418 over the period examined by the survey.

Contributing to Willingboro's problems were the homeowners who fell behind on loans, leading to defaults and foreclosures. Median income remains at $65,000, though down from $78,000 in the 2000 Census.

And the percentage of people in poverty climbed from 6 percent to 9 percent.

"There are a lot of people in my church who are hurting right now," said Tum Suden, 54, whose brother Gary is pastor of First Baptist Church of Willingboro. "We'd like to start a food bank."

At the Willingboro Florist at the Country Club Plaza, owner Candace Davis said customers have told her of "husbands being laid off and jobs lost after many years of service."

Unemployment, said optician Barbara Gray of Clarity Optics at the plaza, "is a big, big issue."

Contact staff writer Edward Colimore

at 856-779-3833

or ecolimore@phillynews.com.

Inquirer staff writer Rita Giordano contributed to this article.