Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell

Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell

The Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that the median household income was $59,000 in 2016, a rise of 3.2% from 2015's $56,500.

Regionally, the Northeastern United States has the highest median household income at $64,390.

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. The 2016 median income figure remains 1.6% below its 2007 level and 2.4% below where it was in 1999, said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the institute. Yet that growth came after a steep recession and a slow recovery that left most American households with only meager pay increases.

There are fewer people living in poverty, with 12.7 percent in 2016 compared to 13.5 percent in 2015.

Median household income, meanwhile, rose to $59,039 in 2016, a 3.2 percent increase from 2015 and the second consecutive annual increase in the category, the Census Bureau said.

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The country's poverty rate fell 0.8 percent to 12.7 percent, which the Census said means 2.5 million fewer people lived in poverty previous year than in 2015. Those in the median and bottom 10th percentile of earners saw their real incomes grow 5.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. Incomes rose a bit for non-Hispanic white ($65,041), Hispanic ($47,675), and black families ($39,490), but were lower than their Asian neighbors.

That's only the "official" poverty rate, though, which only takes into account before-tax income.

And, the share of those without health insurance dropped to 8.8%, down from 9.1% a year earlier. Expansion states had an average uninsured rate of 6.5%, while the average rate in non-expansion states was 11.7%. The rest had Medicare, Medicaid or military coverage.

The supplemental poverty rate - a measure developed during President Barack Obama's administration as a better measure of poverty - was 13.9 percent, slightly less than in 2015. Tom Hirschl, sociologist and co-author of "Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes", says that while the numbers today reflect an incremental improvement, middle-class and working-class Americans still feel insecure about their economic future.

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