U.S. house­hold in­come on the rise

In­crease over past two years is most since the 1960s

USA TODAY International Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Paul David­son @Pdavid­sonusat

Amer­i­cans notched solid fi­nan­cial gains in 2016 for a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive year as house­hold in­comes rose, poverty fell and fewer peo­ple went with­out health in­sur­ance, sig­nal­ing an end to the stag­na­tion that had lin­gered since the Great Re­ces­sion.

The me­dian U.S. house­hold in­come climbed 3.2% to $59,039, the Cen­sus Bu­reau said Tues­day. That fol­lowed growth of 5.2% in 2015, the largest on record dat­ing to 1968. The com­bined in­crease over the past two years is the big­gest such rise since the 1960s.

“Real me­dian house­hold in­come has fi­nally com­pleted its nine-year slog of dig­ging out of the ditch,” says IHS Markit econ­o­mist Chris Christo­pher.

The me­dian, in­fla­tion-ad­justed in­come of $59,000 last year sur­passed the level in 1999 as the high­est on record, but Cen­sus of­fi­cials dis­cour­aged that com­par­i­son be­cause the method for mea­sur­ing in­come changed in 2014.

The num­ber of Amer­i­cans liv­ing in poverty fell to 40.6 mil­lion from 43.1 mil­lion, low­er­ing the poverty rate to 12.7% from 13.5% and plac­ing it marginally above the pre-re­ces­sion level.

John Bouman, pres­i­dent of the Sar­gent Shriver Na­tional Cen­ter on Poverty Law, called the de­cline “wel­come” but “poverty re­mains a per­sis­tent prob­lem in this coun­try, af­flict­ing tens of mil­lions of peo­ple.”

The num­ber of peo­ple with­out health in­sur­ance de­clined by 900,000 to 28.1 mil­lion. The share of Amer­i­cans with­out cov­er­age dipped to 8.8% from 9.1% the prior year.

The re­port un­der­scores that in the fi­nal two years of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, lowand mid­dle-in­come Amer­i­cans made no­tice­able progress af­ter strug­gling in the early years of the eco­nomic re­cov­ery.

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