American families finally earn more than they did in 1999


The Census Bureau reported on Tuesday that the median household income was $59,000 in 2016, a rise of 3.2% from 2015's $56,500. Black families saw their median income climb 5.7% in 2016 to $39,500, while Hispanic households had a 4.3% increase to $47,675. With that caveat in mind, Americans appear to be making only slightly more than they were in 1999, when income last peaked. However, the Census Bureau changed its methodology in 2014, so the record isn't definitive.

Real income grew drastically more for the top 10 percent of Americans than for the bottom 90 percent.

It also was the first year since the recession that the poverty rate was no statistically different than it was before the crash in 2007.

Also, the poverty rate ticked down to 12.7% in 2016 from 13.5% a year earlier. That puts the median household income above where it was in 2007 before the recession hit. Still, almost 41 million Americans remained in poverty in 2016. That is the second gain in two years. Americans in the top 5 percent took home more than $375,000 in income previous year, compared with just $12,943 for those in the bottom quintile.

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

The percentage of people without health insurance for the entire calendar year of 2016 was 8.8 percent, or 28.1 million people, a 0.3 percent decrease from 2015. There were 40.6 million people living in poverty. Median income declined and the poverty rate rose during former President Obama's first term as the nation struggled to recover from the Great Recession before starting to improve in his second term.

Another trouble spot can be found for full-time male workers, who saw their incomes slide a year ago. Women now make 80.5 cents to every $1 earned by men, or an increase of 1.1 percent from 2015.

It's important to note the Census data reports on 2016 income and poverty rates, which means the information doesn't reflect the policies of Mr. Trump, who was inaugurated in January 2017. 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.