U.S. reports rising income, falling poverty in 2016

Dianna Christensen
September 13, 2017

Incomes for a typical USA household, adjusted for inflation, rose 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to $59,039, the Census Bureau said. And the Washington Post reports last year's median household income was the highest on record-beating out the previous high set in 1999.

The U.S. poverty rate varies depending on household.

The bureau said the 2016 poverty rate was not significantly higher than the 12.5 percent poverty rate in 2007, the year before the most recent USA recession.

The median household income took a serious hit during and after the Great Recession.

Still, male workers - one of President Trump's core group of supporters - earned less last year than they did a year earlier, while income inequality shows no signs of abating, according to the latest Census data. This is the first time since the recession that the poverty rate isn't statistically different from the 2007 level of 12.5%, a sign of how the US economy has recovered from the Great Recession.

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Still, the Census data is closely watched because of its comprehensive nature. That is the second gain in two years.

The bureau also said 28.1 million people in the United States, or 8.8 percent, lacked health insurance coverage in 2016 compared with 29 million, or 9.1 percent, in 2015. "But we also saw a big jump in number of people working and the number of people working full-time year round", said Trudi Renwick, an assistant division chief for Census, adding: "Median earnings for full-time, year-round workers was flat relative to last year".

More than 40.6 million people in the United States were living in poverty a year ago, 2.5 million fewer than in 2015 and 6.0 million fewer than in 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau said in its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. Republicans in Congress narrowly failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the law that extends insurance to millions of Americans. Those in the median and bottom 10th percentile of earners saw their real incomes grow 5.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

Another trouble spot can be found for full-time male workers, who saw their incomes slide past year.

Among the many ethnic groups in the United States, Asians have the highest median family incomes, little changed from prior years ($81,431). Women now make 80.5 cents to every $1 earned by men, or an increase of 1.1 percent from 2015.

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