Median income rises for second straight year

Median income rises for second straight year
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The median American household took home just over $59,000 in 2016, the highest figure ever measured — with an asterisk — by the U.S. Census Bureau and up 3.2 percent over the previous year. 
 
Census Bureau officials cautioned that improvements and updates to the way they collect data about household income makes direct comparisons difficult.  The Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank, said median household income still lags behind the high watermark set in 2000, and the median set in 2007, just before the onset of the recession.
 
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Still, the bureau said household incomes are up notably in the years after the recession.
 
“These are two consecutive years of strong income gains,” said Trudi Renwick, assistant division chief for economic characteristics in the Census Bureau’s Social, Economic and Housing Statistics Division.
 
Households led by Asian-Americans held a median income of $81,400 a year, the highest of any racial group. Non-Hispanic white households made a median income of $65,000. The median income in African-American households rose 5.7 percent, to $39,500 a year, while Hispanic households made a $47,700 median income.
 
Seven percent of American households pulled in more than $200,000 in 2016, a number higher than any the Census Bureau has recorded, when adjusted for inflation. And the number of American households that made less than $15,000 a year dipped to 11.2 percent, the lowest percentage since 2007.
 
The new data show the income gap between men and women shrinking to an all-time low. Women earn 80.5 percent of the wages that men make, a gap smaller than any the Census Bureau has ever measured. As recently as 1992, women made only 70.8 percent of the wages men made.
 
The Census Bureau said the number of Americans living in poverty had declined to 40.8 million, or 12.7 percent, the second consecutive annual decline in poverty rates. Since 2014, the poverty rate has declined from 14.8 percent to 12.7 percent.
 
The decline means that, for the first time since the worst recession in modern history, the poverty rate is not statistically higher than it was in 2007, before the recession took hold.
 
But the poverty rate still shows a wide disparity between racial groups. More than one in five African-Americans and 19.4 percent of Hispanic Americans live in poverty, the Census Bureau said. Just over 10 percent of Asian-Americans live in poverty, and only 8.8 percent of non-Hispanic whites live in households that make less than the poverty line of $24,339 a year.
 
The new Census data also show the number of Americans who are covered by health insurance rose to an all-time high of 91.2 percent last year. The rate of those without health insurance has declined by 4.6 percentage points since 2013, when most provisions of the Affordable Care Act took effect. 
 
Most Americans who gained insurance opted into private plans, rather than government-run plans, according to the bureau. The largest declines in the uninsured rates occurred among younger adults, the bureau reported.
 
There remains a wide disparity between states that opted to expand Medicaid and those that have not accepted the federal money offered under former President Obama’s health-care law. Among the 31 states and the District of Columbia that expanded Medicaid, the uninsured rate is 6.5 percent. Among states that did not expand Medicaid, the rate is 11.7 percent.
 
Twenty-five states and the District of Columbia have uninsured rates below 8 percent. Only two states — Texas and Alaska — have uninsured rates over 14 percent.
 
Update: This story has been updated with an analysis of the figures.