U.S. household income on the rise
Increase over past two years is most since the 1960s
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.