Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Median U.S. household income up for second straight year

WASHINGTON — U.S. household incomes rose strongly for the second straight year in 2016, as the long-running economic recovery generated broad gains in prosperity.

The median household income was $59,039 in 2016, an increase of 3.2 percent over the year before after adjusting for inflation, the Census Bureau said Tuesday. The share of Americans living in poverty declined, and the share with full-year health insurance increased, the bureau also reported.

The strong gains will probably sharpen the political debate between President Donald Trump, who is pressing to overhaul the nation's economic policies, and Democrats who now have more ammunition to argue that the changes Trump seeks would mess with success.

The most immediate battle will be over Trump's push for large tax cuts.

"The challenge for policymakers now is to build on the last few years' progress and not worsen poverty and inequality," said Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal research organization. He said that many of the items on Trump's agenda "would raise poverty, widen inequality, or reduce health insurance coverage."

The Census Bureau data paint a picture of widespread improvement in the final years of the Obama administration. The gains in 2015 were the largest on record. Median household income increased by 5.2 percent, the largest jump since record keeping began in 1967.

The gains in 2016 pushed median household income to the highest level on record, but officials cautioned the figure was affected by a change in methodology in 2013, and that actual incomes probably had not exceeded the previous peak, in 1999.

The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization based in Washington, estimated that without the change in methodology, median household income was still roughly 2.3 percent below the record high — and 1.6 percent below the level reached in 2007.

Moreover, the gains have accrued disproportionately to the most affluent Americans. The mean household income for the poorest fifth of households fell by $571 over the decade that ended last year, adjusting for inflation. The mean for the wealthiest fifth of households increased by $13,479, also adjusting for inflation.

Trump campaigned on a pledge to lift the nation's fortunes and to repair what he described in his inaugural address as "this American carnage." He has called for cuts to federal taxes and spending, broad reductions in regulation and limits on foreign trade.

He also promised to repeal and replace the health care law.

The poverty rate fell for the second straight year. The Census Bureau reported that 12.7 percent of households lived in poverty in 2016, representing a total of 40.6 million people. That was down from 13.5 percent of households and 43.1 million people in 2015.

The data showed that the ranks of those with health insurance coverage continued to grow last year. Only 8.8 percent of the population lacked insurance for the full year, down from 9.1 percent in 2015.

$571

Decrease in inflation-adjusted mean household income for the poorest fifth of households in the decade that ended last year. $13,479

Increase in inflation-adjusted mean household income for the wealthiest fifth of households over the decade that ended last year.

Median U.S. household income up for second straight year 09/12/17 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 12, 2017 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Mueller casts broad net in requesting extensive records from Trump White House

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — The special counsel investigating Russian election meddling has requested extensive records and email correspondence from the White House, covering the president's private discussions about firing his FBI director and his response to news that the then-national security adviser was under …

    In a photograph provided by the Russian foreign ministry, President Donald Trump meets with Sergei Lavrov, left, the Russian foreign minister, and Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, May 10, 2017. Special counsel Robert Mueller is interested in this meeting, where Trump said dismissing FBI Director James Comey had relieved "great pressure" on him, the New York Times reported on Sept. 20. [Russian Foreign Ministry via  New York Times]
  2. 'We will find our island destroyed': Hurricane Maria demolishes Puerto Rico

    News

    SAN JUAN — Sleepless Puerto Ricans awoke Wednesday knowing to expect a thrashing from the most ferocious storm to strike the island in at least 85 years. They met nightfall confronting the ruin Hurricane Maria left behind: engorged rivers, blown-out windows, sheared roofs, toppled trees and an obliterated electric …

    Rescue vehicles from the Emergency Management Agency stand trapped under an awning during the impact of Hurricane Maria, after the storm  hit the eastern region of the island, in Humacao, Puerto Rico, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Maria has lost its major hurricane status, after raking Puerto Rico. But forecasters say some strengthening is in the forecast and Maria could again become a major hurricane by Thursday. [Carlos Giusti | Associated Press]
  3. Obamacare repeal bill offers flexibility and uncertainty

    Politics

    The latest Republican proposal to undo the Affordable Care Act would grant states much greater flexibility and all but guarantee much greater uncertainty for tens of millions of people.

  4. Manafort offered to give Russian billionaire 'private briefings' on 2016 campaign, report says

    Nation

    Less than two weeks before Donald Trump accepted the Republican presidential nomination, his campaign chairman offered to provide briefings on the race to a Russian billionaire closely aligned with the Kremlin, the Washington Post reports.

    Paul Manafort, then Donald Trump's campaign chairman, talks to reporters on the floor of the Republican National Convention at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. [Associated Press]
  5. Tampa girl, 4, dies of gunshot reaching for candy

    News

    TAMPA — One day last week, 4-year-old Yanelly Zoller reached into her grandmother's purse looking for candy, her father says.

    Yanelly Zoller, also known as Nelly, snuggles with her grandfather’s dog, Venus. “She loved to help daddy work on the car,” her father, Shane Zoller, 22, said.