Recession Officially Over for Median Household Income

Recession Officially Over for Median Household Income

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.

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.

Trudi Renwick, the bureau's assistant division chief, cautioned that the census in 2013 changed how it asks households about income, making historical comparisons less than precise. That puts income just 1.6 percent below what households earned before the recession started in late 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank.

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The U.S. poverty rate varies depending on household.

American families are finally getting a break nearly 10 years after the Great Recession decimated household income and eroded personal wealth. Americans in the top 5 percent took home more than $375,000 in income a year ago, compared with just $12,943 for those in the bottom quintile. That is the second gain in two years.

The number of poor decreased for most demographic groups with the exception of adults over 65 years old, the only population group that posted an increase in the number living in poverty, it added.

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Still, the Census data is closely watched because of its comprehensive nature.

The share of the public living without health insurance also saw back-to-back decreases, with another 900,000 people gaining coverage between 2015 and 2016, the Commerce Department figures showed. Tom Hirschl, sociologist and co-author of "Chasing the American Dream: Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes", says that while the numbers today reflect an incremental improvement, middle-class and working-class Americans still feel insecure about their economic future.

The bureau also said 28.1 million people in the United States, or 8.8 percent, lacked health insurance coverage in 2016 compared with 29 million, or 9.1 percent, in 2015. Asian-Americans had the highest median income of any group, $81,400, but it was not statistically different than the previous year. Women earned 80.5 percent of men's earnings, up from 79.6 percent in 2015.

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