The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Tuesday that real median household income increased by 3.2 percent between 2015 and 2016, while the official poverty rate decreased 0.8 percentage points. At the same time, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased. This is the first time that median income has increased since 2007, which was the previous highest level.

Median household income in the United States in 2016 was $59,039, an increase in real terms of 3.2 percent from the 2015 median income of $57,230. This is the second consecutive annual increase in median household income.

Take-away:

  • The median household income was $59,000, up 3.2 percent from 2015.
  • The poverty rate in 2016 ticked down by 0.8 percentage point to 12.7 percent. There were 40.6 million people living in poverty.
  • The supplemental poverty rate — a measure developed during President Barack Obama’s administration as a better measure of poverty — was 13.9 percent, slightly less than in 2015. The statistic is based on whether people have enough money to pay for basic needs and includes factors not counted in the official rate, such as government-support programs and the cost of medical expenses. It also adjusts for geographic disparities in housing costs.
  • The number of Americans who did not have health insurance for the entire year was 28.1 million, or about 8.8 percent, a decline of 0.3 point from 2015.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2016 was 12.7 percent, with 40.6 million people in poverty, 2.5 million fewer than in 2015. The 0.8 percentage point decrease from 2015 to 2016 represents the second consecutive annual decline in poverty. The 2016 poverty rate is not statistically different from the 2007 rate (12.5 percent), the year before the most recent recession.

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2016 calendar year was 8.8 percent, down from 9.1 percent in 2015. The number of people without health insurance declined to 28.1 million from 29.0 million over the period.

In another Census Bureau report, The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2016, which was also released on Tuesday, it was revealed that the supplemental poverty rate in 2016 was 13.9 percent, a decrease from 14.5 percent in 2015. With support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure shows a different way of measuring poverty in the United States and serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being. The Census Bureau has published poverty estimates using the supplemental poverty measure annually since 2011.

 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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