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Census Bureau: US household income up 3.2%; poverty rate dips in Northeast

13 September 2017

According to the report, the median household income in the U.S increased by more than 3 percent to $59,039 between 2015 and 2016.

The income growth, however, likely stems from more people returning to work and more moving up to full-time jobs, as opposed to workers getting significant raises, said Jared Bernstein, senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. According to EPI's estimates, which compensates for the difference in income measurement before 2014, the median household earned about $59,992 in 2007, slightly more than the $59,039 reported in 2016.

The Census data said it changed its income questions in 2014, which makes it hard to make comparisons before that year. The median is the point at which half the households fall below and half are above.

The median household income took a serious hit during and after the Great Recession.

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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, Census said. 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. The poverty rate fell a year ago to 12.7 percent from 13.5 percent, Census said.

The share of blacks in poverty fell to 22% in 2016, down from 24.1% a year earlier. The rate for whites was 8.8% and for Asians 10.1%, both statistically the same as the year before. Expansion states had an average uninsured rate of 6.5%, while the average rate in non-expansion states was 11.7%. Still, almost 41 million Americans remained in poverty in 2016. This is the first time since the recession that the poverty rate isn't statistically different from the 2007 level of 12.5%, a sign of how the USA economy has recovered from the Great Recession.

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

In a stark reminder of the damage done by the Great Recession and of the modest recovery that followed, the median American household past year finally earned more than it did in 1999.

Census Bureau: US household income up 3.2%; poverty rate dips in Northeast