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USA reports rising income, falling poverty in 2016

13 September 2017, 12:42 | Gordon Grant

Getty Images

Getty Images

Median household incomes were higher in 2016 than ever before, surpassing a record set almost two-decades ago in 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday. African-American median household income jumped 5.7 percent to $39,490 year over year. With that caveat in mind, Americans appear to be making only slightly more than they were in 1999, when income last peaked. In 2015, household incomes rose 5.2%, the largest increase since records began in 1967.

The U.S. poverty rate varies depending on household. The 12.7 percent poverty rate in 2016 was a decrease of 0.8 percentage points from 13.5 percent in 2015, it said.

In fact, median income has not even caught up with its pre-recession level, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group, which crunched the Census data to account for the change.

The income gains were fairly broad. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007.

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The share of the public living without health insurance also saw back-to-back decreases, with another 900,000 people gaining coverage between 2015 and 2016, the Commerce Department figures showed. Those in the median and bottom 10th percentile of earners saw their real incomes grow 5.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. 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.

Some 28.1 million people lacked health insurance in 2016, down from 41.8 million in 2013.

More than 40.6 million people in the United States were living in poverty previous year, 2.5 million fewer than in 2015 and 6.0 million fewer than in 2014, the U.S. Census Bureau said in its annual report on income, poverty and health insurance coverage.

The report found that the gender gap in wages narrowed past year for the first time since 2007. Meanwhile, Asian households had a median income of $81,400 and Hispanic households of $47,700. Women now make 80.5 cents to every $1 earned by men, or an increase of 1.1 percent from 2015.

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