American incomes rose for second consecutive year under Obama

Lucy Hill
September 13, 2017

According to Census Bureau figures released Tuesday, the median household income in America in 2016 was $59,039-an increase of 3.2%.

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. For example, in 2016, a family of four with two adults and two children with a household income of $24,339 or less, two adults with $16,543 or less, or someone aged 65 or older with $11,511 or less would all be considered to be living in poverty. However, the Census Bureau changed its methodology in 2014, so the record isn't definitive.

And now for the buzzkill portion of this post: this means household income has increased a whopping 0.6 percent since 1999.

The bureau reported 40.6 million people in the United States are considered living in poverty, or 2.5 million fewer than in 2015.

In addition, the nation's official poverty rate declined to 12.7 percent in 2016, a 0.8 percentage-point drop from the year before.

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Sheldon Danziger, head of the Russell Sage Foundation poverty research group, said "expanding the earned income tax credit. and more spending on badly needed infrastructure and early childhood education" would lift employment and productivity.

The poverty rate has returned to pre-recession levels. The rate for whites was 8.8% and for Asians 10.1%, both statistically the same as the year before. 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. Tom Hirschl, sociologist and co-author of "Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes", says that while the numbers today reflect an incremental improvement, middle-class and working-class Americans still feel insecure about their economic future.

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

According to the Census Bureau, 2016 marked the first year that the poverty rate was not significantly higher than in 2007, or prior to the Great Recession.

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