United States reports rising income, falling poverty in 2016


Today, the U.S. Census Bureau reported the American peoples' 2016 experience with poverty, median income and health insurance. The figures for 2016 mark the second consecutive annual increase in the median household income - a closely watched metric for how the American middle class is doing from year to year, adjusted for inflation.

"Real median household income has finally completed its nine-year slog of digging out of the ditch", IHS Markit Executive Director Chris Christopher said, with more gains expected in 2017 and 2018. However, the Census Bureau warned against making direct comparisons because of changes in its methodology, made in 2014. The median is the point at which half the households fall below and half are above.

"Over the past several decades Census Bureau reports have found that the average one year risk of poverty tends to vary between 11 and 15 percent".

American families are finally getting a break nearly 10 years after the Great Recession decimated household income and eroded personal wealth.

Still, male workers - one of President Trump's core group of supporters - earned less last year than they did a year earlier, while income inequality shows no signs of abating, according to the latest Census data. 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. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007.

The income gains were fairly broad. About 1.2 million more Americans earned income in 2016 than in 2015, and 2.2 million more had full-time year-round jobs.

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

It showed that Social Security benefits lifted 26.1 million people out of poverty, while refundable tax credits helped 8.2 million people and food stamps prevented 3.6 million from being in poverty.

The report found that the gender gap in wages narrowed past year for the first time since 2007.

Household income in the world's largest economy rose for the second straight year in 2016 while poverty also continued to decline, according to government figures Tuesday.