American household income finally topped 1999 peak past year

American household income finally topped 1999 peak past year

Americans notched solid financial gains in 2016 for a second straight year as household incomes rose, poverty fell and fewer people went without health insurance, signaling an end to the stagnation that had lingered since the Great Recession.

The median income increased to $59,000 from $57,200 in 2015, the report says. The nation's official poverty rate of 12.6% in 2016 generated 40.6 million people in poverty. Only 8.8 percent of the population lacked health insurance for the full year, down from 9.1 percent in 2015. With support from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Supplemental Poverty Measure shows a different way of measuring poverty in the United States and serves as an additional indicator of economic well-being.

Incomes in the US jumped again a year ago, allowing the average American household to finally recover the ground it lost in the past two recessions.

MCEVERS: OK, so let's start with that median income number.

Nationwide, black households saw the most pronounced increase in median household income past year, at 5.7 percent ($39,490).

MCEVERS: So then who benefited from these income increases? Those in the 90th percentile of earnings saw their real incomes grow roughly 10.6 percent. That is virtually unchanged from the 20.6 percent average for 2013, 2014 and 2015, according to Tuesday's release. A household with two adults and two children was considered poor if their total annual income was less than $24,339.

American household income finally topped 1999 peak past year
American household income finally topped 1999 peak past year

Also, this year income inequality doesn't seem to have worsened, with the Gini coefficient, a widely used measure of inequality, showing no significant change.

Since 2005, women's incomes have grown more than five times faster than their male counterparts - 11.6 per cent compared to 2.2 per cent - likely because of more higher-paying union work for women, while men lose manufacturing jobs, said Doug Norris, chief demographer at Environics Analytics. Consumer prices rose 1.3% in 2016, up from a 0.1% gain in 2015, according to Labor Department data.

Last year's figure is slightly above the previous peak of $58,665, reached in 1999.

The median earnings for all men employed year-round was $51,640 in 2016, which is still far below the $54,030 earned by full-time men in 1973. Those opportunities and contributions are good news - but they do not change the reality that men's income has been flat for 44 years. Average incomes among the wealthiest 5 percent climbed 5.5 percent to $375,088.

In 2017, the number and percentage of shared households remained higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.

Of those, 1.2 million Canadians are children under 18 - including their 10-month-old daughter, Isabelle. Hispanics saw their poverty rate fall to 19.4%, down from 21.4%.

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