Middle class income in the US tops $59000, a 3.2 percent jump

Tammy Harvey
September 13, 2017

The poverty rate dropped in President Barack Obama's final year of office as median household income rose to a record high last year.

The second straight annual increase raised the median household income to $59,039, from $57,230 in 2015.

There was no significant change in income inequality for the year, with the top five percent of households bringing in $225,252 or more a year while the bottom quintile earned $24,003 or less. The Census changed its questions in 2014 in order to capture more sources of income, so officials don't want to make comparisons over longer periods of time. Hispanic households have a real median income of $47,675.

"Over the past several decades Census Bureau reports have found that the average one year risk of poverty tends to vary between 11 and 15 percent". That puts the median household income above where it was in 2007 before the recession hit.

The Census Bureau also released its Supplemental Poverty Measure, which takes into account government assistance and certain expenses not factored into the official poverty rate. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007. "But we also saw a big jump in number of people working and the number of people working full-time year round", said Trudi Renwick, an assistant division chief for Census, adding: "Median earnings for full-time, year-round workers was flat relative to last year".

The percentage of people without health insurance for the entire calendar year of 2016 was 8.8 percent, or 28.1 million people, a 0.3 percent decrease from 2015. State and county figures on income and poverty, as well as health insurance coverage for areas with populations of 65,000 or more, are to be released Thursday.

The number of people in poverty nationally in 2016 was 40.6 million, which was 2.5 million fewer than in 2015, the bureau said. 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.

Among the many ethnic groups in the United States, Asians have the highest median family incomes, little changed from prior years ($81,431).

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