US Poverty Rate Falls, Median Income Rises in 2016

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The Census Bureau says the median income, adjusted for inflation, rose 3.2% from 2015 to 2016 to $59,039.

The latest household income figure is the highest ever reported by the Census Bureau - eclipsing the peak of $58,665 reached in 1999. In 2015, household incomes rose 5.2%, the largest increase since records began in 1967.

The poorest USA households, by comparison, have a smaller share of income than ever before. The South and the Western regions of the US saw the biggest income increases, while the Northeast and Midwest saw no statistically significant change at all.

Still, male workers - one of President Trump's core group of supporters - earned less last year than they did a year earlier, while income inequality shows no signs of abating, according to the latest Census data. That also was the second consecutive year of a decline in the nation's poverty rate.

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At the same time, the agency said last year's official USA poverty rate was about where it was before the recent US recession. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007. About 1.2 million more Americans earned income in 2016 than in 2015, and 2.2 million more had full-time year-round jobs.

"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. That means 40.6 million people are living below the poverty line, which is also down from previous years.

It showed that Social Security benefits lifted 26.1 million people out of poverty, while refundable tax credits helped 8.2 million people and food stamps prevented 3.6 million from being in poverty. In 2016, a family of four with two adults and two children with a household income of $24,339 or less, two adults under age 65 with $16,543 or less, or someone aged 65 or older with $11,511 in annual income would all meet the poverty threshold, according to Census. Women earned 80.5 percent of men's earnings, up from 79.6 percent in 2015.