House­hold in­come fi­nally tops ’99 peak

Typ­i­cal Amer­i­can fam­ily re­bound­ing from the re­ces­sion.

The Palm Beach Post - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By Christo­pher Ru­gaber

WASH­ING­TON — In a stark re­minder of the dam­age done by the Great Re­ces­sion and of the mod­est re­cov­ery that fol­lowed, the me­dian Amer­i­can house­hold is fi­nally earn­ing more than it did in 1999, the U.S. Cen­sus Bu­reau said in a re­ported re­leased Tues­day.

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 in­fla­tion-ad­justed peak of $58,665, reached in 1999. It is also the first time since the re­ces­sion ended in 2009 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 im­pre­cise.

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.

Elise Gould, a se­nior econ­o­mist at the Eco­nomic Pol­icy Institute, said that ad­just­ing for the change in method­ol­ogy, me­dian in­come still re­mains be­low its 1999 peak. Yet she added that the cen­sus re­port shows Amer­i­can house­holds have made sig­nif­i­cant eco­nomic progress.

“We are def­i­nitely pulling our­selves out of the deep hole of the Great Re­ces­sion,” Gould said.

Me­dian house­hold in­come rose $4,641, or 8.5 per­cent, from 2014 through 2016. That’s the best two-year gain on records dat­ing to 1967, ac­cord­ing to an­a­lysts at the Cen­ter on Bud­get and Pol­icy Pri­or­i­ties.

Yet that im­prove­ment comes af­ter a steep re­ces­sion and a slow re­cov­ery that left most Amer­i­can house­holds with barely any in­come in­crease. The lack of mean­ing­ful raises has left many peo­ple feel­ing left be­hind eco­nom­i­cally, a sen­ti­ment that fac­tored into the 2016 elec­tions.

The re­port also showed that in­come in­equal­ity wors­ened last year. Av­er­age in­comes among the wealth­i­est 5 per­cent of U.S. res­i­dents climbed 5.5 per­cent to $375,088. Av­er­age in­comes for the poor­est one-fifth of house­holds, mean­while, rose 2.5 per­cent to $12,943.

The poverty rate fell to 12.7 per­cent from 13.5 per­cent, Cen­sus said, and the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing be­low the poverty line de­clined 2.5 mil­lion to 40.6 mil­lion.

ALAN DIAZ / AP 2016

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

AN­DREW HARNIK / AP

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders on Tues­day dou­bled down on Pres­i­dent Trump’s de­ci­sion to fire for­mer FBI chief James Comey.

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