Household incomes see first big gain since 2007
After eight lean years, Ameri- cans got fatter paychecks in 2015 — their first significant hike since 2007 and the biggest since record keeping began in 1968. The U.S. median household income rose 5.2% to $56,516, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
“This is a big deal,” President Obama said Tuesday in Philadelphia. “Across every age, every race in America, incomes rose, and the poverty rate fell. In fact, the typical household income of Americans rose by $2,800, which is the single biggest one-year increase on record.”
The income of the typical U.S. home still hasn’t managed to rise above where it was before the last recession. In 2007, median household income — the point at which half would make more, while the other half would make less — was $57,423, adjusted for inflation. Incomes peaked in 1999 at $57,909, also adjusted for inflation, the bureau said in its report, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015.”
“We lifted 3.5 million people out of poverty,” Obama said. “The uninsured rate is the lowest it has been since they kept records. The pay gap between men and women shrank to the lowest level ever.”
Though the number of people in poverty shrank to 43.1 million from 46.7 million, the largest drop since 1968, there’s room for improvement, said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas. “Today’s report is another disappointing confirmation that too many Americans are still struggling to provide for their families and reach their full potential,” he said. “The federal government invests billions of dollars each year in programs to help low-income Americans — but more than 43 million people continue to live in poverty. It shouldn’t be this way in America.”
Gary Burtless, an economist at the Brookings Institution, called the reduction in poverty “fairly sharp.” He wondered whether the increase in household income is spot on. He noted that the Census Bureau’s household income findings, based on population surveys, have trailed the increases found in the Bureau of Economic Analysis’ National Income and Product Accounts. Where Census data found incomes down 1.1% from 2013 to 2014, the BEA report had them up 2.1%, he says.