The 2016 census report underlines the strength of the economic recovery Obama oversaw after the worst recession in living memory
American incomes rose significantly for a second year in a row in 2016, bouncing back after the lost decade that followed the last recession.
The census report covers 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, and underlines the strength of the economic recovery he oversaw after the worst recession in living memory.
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. In 2015, household incomes rose 5.2%, the largest increase since records began in 1967.
The latest household income figure is the highest ever reported by the Census Bureau – eclipsing the peak of $58,665 reached in 1999. However, the Census Bureau warned against making direct comparisons because of changes in its methodology made in 2014.
“Real median household income has finally completed its nine-year slog of digging out of the ditch,” said Chris Christopher, executive director of IHS Markit.
The US poverty rate also fell to 12.7%, its lowest rate since 2007. Some 40.6 million Americans were living in poverty in 2016, down from 43.1 million in 2015.
The percentage of Americans without health insurance also dropped in 2016, to 8.8% from 9.1% in 2015. There are just seven states that now have 12% or more of their population uninsured, down from 31 states in 2013, ahead of the introduction of Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Elise Gould, senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), said there were many positive aspects to the report but “we should not be popping the champagne corks”.”
According to the EPI’s analysis of census data, the median income of non-elderly households is still well behind the peak reached in 2000 at $69,890, and she said it was “problematic” that men’s wages had stalled in 2016.
“I would say the report is sunny with a few clouds, if I had to use a metaphor,” said Gould. “But it is very likely that if trends continue, we will get back to the levels where we were.”
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