Recession Officially Over for Median Household Income

Recession Officially Over for Median Household Income

According to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday, the median household income in America in 2016 was $59,039-an increase of 3.2%. In 2015, median household income jumped 5.2 percent, reaching $56,500, which was the first annual increase in median household incomes since 2007, or before the recession began.

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. Since 1967, however, incomes for those in the top five percent nearly doubled, while the median income has risen by less than one third. It is based on interviews with 70,000 households and includes detailed data on incomes and poverty across a range of demographic groups.

The bureau said the 2016 poverty rate was not significantly higher than the 12.5 percent poverty rate in 2007, the year before the most recent US recession. Yet that growth came after a steep recession and a slow recovery that left most American households with only meager pay increases. That also was the second consecutive year of a decline in the nation's poverty rate. Median income is up 3.2 percent, 9 percent remain without health insurance coverage and the percentage of Americans living below the federal poverty line is holding steady at 12.5 percent.




Still, the Census data is closely watched because of its comprehensive nature.

The income gains reflect mostly a rise in the number of Americans with jobs and in people working full time, the agency said. Half a century ago, the highest 5 percent of earners controlled just 17.2 percent of all income.

The percentage of people without health insurance for the entire calendar year of 2016 was 8.8 percent, or 28.1 million people, a 0.3 percent decrease from 2015. While that is an improvement, it still leaves 40.6 million Americans in poverty. Basically, the good news from last year's income report, which was the first really positive sign in almost a decade, may be turning into a trend. Asian-Americans had the highest median income of any group, $81,400, but it was not statistically different than the previous year. 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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