US house­hold in­comes on the rise

The Myanmar Times - - Business -

ME­DIAN house­hold in­come in the United States rose last year for the first time in eight years, pro­vid­ing wel­come relief for Amer­i­cans strug­gling to make ends meet.

The White House seized on the news, cel­e­brat­ing what it said was the fastest in­come growth recorded in nearly 50 years.

Ac­cord­ing to Com­merce De­part­ment data, real US me­dian house­hold in­come rose 5.2 per­cent be­tween 2014 and 2015 to US$56,516.

The poverty rate fell 1.2 per­cent­age points to 13.5pc, with 43.1 mil­lion Amer­i­cans liv­ing in poverty, 3.5 mil­lion fewer than in 2014.

The fig­ures marked the first an­nual in­crease in me­dian house­hold in­come since 2007, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the Cen­sus Bureau, which is part of the Com­merce De­part­ment.

With voters due to choose a new pres­i­dent in less than two months, the re­sults quickly be­came the sub­ject of elec­tion­eer­ing.

The Cen­sus Bureau noted, how­ever, that house­hold in­comes re­mained 1.6pc lower than in 2007, the year be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis, and were 2.4pc lower than a peak in 1999.

While there was no sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ment in US in­come in­equal­ity, the share of the pub­lic liv­ing with­out health in­sur­ance fell from 10.4pc to 9.1pc, or 29 mil­lion peo­ple, in 2015.

De­spite the steady job growth pro­duced by the US econ­omy in recent months, some US pol­i­cy­mak­ers have sounded a note of cau­tion, cit­ing slack in the labour mar­kets and say­ing labour force par­tic­i­pa­tion re­mains 1-1.5 per­cent­age points below the lev­els recorded be­fore the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis of 2007-2008.

The US Fed­eral Re­serve re­frained from rais­ing rates this year out of fear of in­ter­rupt­ing a com­par­a­tively weak eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

Mem­bers are due to con­vene next week to re­view in­ter­est rate pol­icy. Mem­bers are di­vided over the tim­ing of the next in­crease.

Still, Ja­son Fur­man, chair of Mr Obama’s Coun­cil of Eco­nomic Ad­vi­sors, said that the news was un­am­bigu­ously good, not­ing that the largest im­prove­ments had been for African Amer­i­cans, His­pan­ics and chil­dren.

Mr Fur­man also said the pay gap be­tween men and women work­ing full-time shrank last year.

“The ra­tio of earn­ings for women work­ing full-time, full-year to earn­ings for men work­ing full-time, full-year in­creased to 80pc in 2015, the high­est on record,” Mr Fur­man said. –

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