Household Income Finally Beats 1999 Record

Randall Padilla
September 13, 2017

The median USA household income for the year was $59,039, up 3.2 percent in inflation-adjusted terms from the prior year and the second consecutive increase.

The latest household income figure is the highest ever reported by the Census Bureau - eclipsing the peak of $58,665 reached in 1999. However, the Census Bureau changed its methodology in 2014, so the record isn't definitive. Hispanic households have a real median income of $47,675. The U.S. economy added a total of 2 million jobs a year ago, ending with a 4.7% unemployment rate, down from 5% at the close of 2015.

The bureau said changes in incomes in households in the Northeast were "not statistically significant", while the poverty rate in the Northeast decreased from 12.4 percent in 2015 to 10.8 percent in 2016.

In fact, median income has not even caught up with its pre-recession level, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning group, which crunched the Census data to account for the change.

The poverty threshold for a two-person household under the age of 65 was $16,072 a year ago. Overall, the story was pretty upbeat in 2016, the past year of President Barack Obama's term. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007.

"The decline in the unisured is clearly the effect of the Affordable Care Act, and this is particularly pronounced in states that expanded Medicaid coverage", said John Rizzo, the Long Island Association's chief economist and a professor of health economics at Stony Brook University.

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.

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. 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.

Household income in the world's largest economy rose for the second straight year in 2016 while poverty also continued to decline, according to government figures Tuesday. Women earned 80.5 percent of men's earnings, up from 79.6 percent in 2015.

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