Household Incomes Rose to Record in 2016 as Poverty Fell


Poverty rates declined a year ago in 24 states including NY, where the percentage of people living below the federal poverty line fell from 15.4 percent to 14.7 percent. Last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defined poverty as a single person living off $11,880 or less annually; for a family of four, poverty would be $24,300 or less.

The nation's official poverty rate in 2016 was 12.7 percent, 40.6 million in poverty - 2.5 million less than in 2015.

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for all of 2016 was 8.8 percent in 2016, lower than the 9.1 percent measured in 2015.

The income increase extended to nearly every demographic group, Census Bureau officials said.

Vance Ginn, also of the TPPF, said the Supplemental Poverty Measure, released by the Census Bureau on Tuesday, shows that Texas has the right approach over California. The median income in the now $59,000, which rose by more than $1,800 from $57,200 in 2015. That contrasts with white households at 2.0 percent ($65,041) and a 4.3 percent jump for Hispanic households ($47,675).

In 2016, the increase in household incomes and decreases in poverty were mostly centered on traditionally marginalized demographics-racial and ethnic minorities, immigrants, the undereducated, and those with disabilities-as well as those living in urban areas.

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Asian-Americans had the highest median income of any group, $81,400, but it was not statistically different than the previous year.

As for the median US household's income, it finally surpassed the mark before the recession in 2008.

One interesting measure to look at is the real income growth from 2008 to 2016, the years spanning former President Barack Obama's two terms in the White House. With household incomes rising, poverty has declined. Households with the highest incomes were in the Northeast ($64,390) and the West ($64,275) followed by the Midwest ($58,305) and the South ($53,861).

Inequality remains high, with the top fifth of earners taking home more than half of all overall income, a record. The gender wage gap was significantly wider on this side of the Columbia River; in Multnomah County, Ore., and Portland women earned 90.9 and 92.6 percent, respectively, of what men earned.

Also, this year income inequality doesn't seem to have worsened, with the Gini coefficient, a widely used measure of inequality, showing no significant change. Without considering cost-of-living, California ranks 16th in the country, with an "official" poverty rate of 14.5 percent, just slightly over the national average. (Appropriately, Trump stole the slogan from Ronald Reagan.) More so even than most Republican candidates, Trump has run a campaign aimed squarely and frankly at old people's nostalgia, fear of danger, and anxiety about social change.

But medical expenses increased the number of people in poverty by 10.5 million. That's down from about 8.1 percent at the beginning of the decade. It is also the first time since the recession ended in 2009 that the typical household earned more than it did in 2007, when the recession began.