At long last

Amer­i­can house­hold in­come fi­nally topped 1999 peak last year

The Morning Journal (Lorain, OH) - - BUSINESS - By Christo­pher Ru­gaber

In a stark re­minder of the dam­age done by the Great Re­ces­sion and of the mod­est re­cov­ery that fol­lowed, the me­dian Amer­i­can house­hold last year fi­nally earned more than it did in 1999.

In­comes for a typ­i­cal U.S. house­hold, ad­justed for in­fla­tion, rose 3.2 per­cent from 2015 to 2016 to $59,039, the Cen­sus Bureau said. The me­dian is the point at which half the house­holds fall be­low and half are above.

Last year’s fig­ure is slightly above the pre­vi­ous peak of $58,665, reached in 1999. It is also the first time since the re­ces­sion ended in 2009 that the typ­i­cal house­hold earned more than it did in 2007, when the re­ces­sion be­gan.

Trudi Ren­wick, the bureau’s as­sis­tant di­vi­sion chief, cau­tioned that the cen­sus in 2013 changed how it asks house­holds about in­come, mak­ing his­tor­i­cal com­par­isons less than pre­cise.

Still, the Cen­sus data is closely watched be­cause of its com­pre­hen­sive na­ture. It is based on in­ter­views with 70,000 house­holds and in­cludes de­tailed data on in­comes and poverty across a range of de­mo­graphic groups.

The me­dian U.S. in­come has now posted solid gains for two straight years. Yet that growth came af­ter a steep re­ces­sion and a slow re­cov­ery that left most Amer­i­can house­holds with only mea­ger pay in­creases. The lack of mean­ing­ful raises has left many peo­ple feel­ing left behind eco­nom­i­cally, a sen­ti­ment that fac­tored into the 2016 elec­tions.

The Cen­sus report cov­ers 2016, the last year of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The in­come gains re­flect mostly a rise in the num­ber of Amer­i­cans with jobs and in peo­ple work­ing full time, the agency said. About 1.2 mil­lion more Amer­i­cans earned in­come in 2016 than in 2015, and 2.2 mil­lion more had full-time year­round jobs.

The im­proved in­comes have been widely shared. African-Amer­i­can me­dian house­hold in­come jumped 5.7 per­cent to $39,490 year over year. Among, Lati­nos it rose to 4.3 per­cent to $47,675. For whites, the gain was 2 per­cent to $65,041.

Asian-Amer­i­cans re­ported the high­est house­hold in­comes, at $81,431, which was lit­tle changed from 2015.

Other mea­sures of Amer­i­cans’ eco­nomic health also im­proved. The poverty rate fell last year to 12.7 per­cent from 13.5 per­cent, Cen­sus said. The num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty line dropped 2.5 mil­lion to 40.6 mil­lion.

And the pro­por­tion of Amer­i­cans without health in­sur­ance de­clined to 8.8 per­cent, the report showed, down from 9.1 per­cent.

The report found that the gen­der gap in wages nar­rowed last year for the first time since 2007. Women earned 80.5 per­cent of men’s earn­ings, up from 79.6 per­cent in 2015.


Peo­ple shop in Miami. Af­ter years of slug­gish growth, typ­i­cal U.S. house­hold in­comes fi­nally topped pre-re­ces­sion lev­els in 2016and reached an all-time high, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion re­leased by the Cen­sus Bureau, Tues­day.

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