Median household incomes were higher in 2016 than ever before, surpassing a record set almost two-decades ago in 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday.
The median United States 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. In the two years following the end of the Great Recession, median household income fell almost $2,000 to $50,054 in 2011. But Census officials cautioned against comparing the figures because the bureau has changed its methodology over the years.
"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".
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. It's the second consecutive year the US has seen an increase.
The Census report covers 2016, the past year of the Obama administration, and underline the strength of the economic recovery he oversaw after the worst recession in living memory.
Since 2014, the bureau noted, the national poverty rate has fallen 2.1 percentage points - going from 14.8 percent to 12.7 percent.
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Still, the Census data is closely watched because of its comprehensive nature.
The share of the population without health insurance fell to 8.8 percent, or 28.1 million people, down from 9.1 percent in 2015. Those in the median and bottom 10th percentile of earners saw their real incomes grow 5.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively. The number of people living below the poverty line dropped 2.5 million to 40.6 million.
Other measures of Americans' economic health also improved.
Another trouble spot can be found for full-time male workers, who saw their incomes slide a year ago.
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.
The gap between the earnings of women and men narrowed slightly in 2016, with women now earning just more than 80 cents for every dollar men earn.