Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell

Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell

Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell

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. 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.

Of those with coverage past year, just over two-thirds of Americans had private insurance, mostly from their employers.

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.

The official poverty rate varies depending on household size and income. The U.S. economy added a total of 2 million jobs a year ago, ending with a 4.7% unemployment rate, down from 5% at the close of 2015. The poverty rate fell previous year to 12.7 percent from 13.5 percent, Census said.

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

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

Among racial groups, Asian households had the highest median income in 2016, at $81,431.

The median USA income has now posted solid gains for two straight years. Median income declined and the poverty rate rose during former President Obama's first term as the nation struggled to recover from the Great Recession before starting to improve in his second term.

The income gains reflect mostly a rise in the number of Americans with jobs and in people working full time, the agency said. While that is an improvement, it still leaves 40.6 million Americans in poverty.

The percentage of people without health insurance was 8.8%, a decline of 0.3%. 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.

The gap between the earnings of women and men narrowed slightly in 2016, with women now earning just more than 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

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