A new report by the Census Bureau reveals that in 2015 middle-class Americans and the poor enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades. The gains are attributed to improving job market, low inflation, and rising wages.
Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015, up from $53,700 in 2014. This 5.2 percent increase is the largest, in percentage terms, recorded by the agency since it started tracking median income statistics in the 1960s.
Growth in Real Household Income by Percentile, 2014-2015
Source: White House Council
The poverty rate also fell by 1.2 percentage points, the steepest decline since 1968. This year, there were 43.1 million Americans in poverty, 3.5 million fewer than in the previous year.
The Economic Expansion
Source: The NY Times
Regardless of their race, gender, age, or legal status, Americans across the board benefited from increases in household income from 2014 to 2015. Hispanic families saw the largest gains at 6.1 percent in median household income, followed by white families at 4.4 percent, and black families at 4.1 percent. However, those incomes remained below their pre-recession highs.
Source: Census Bureau
Additionally, the gender pay gap narrowed to a record low, with women working full-time earning 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. A woman working full-time in 2015 earned $40,742, a 3 percent bump from 2014, but still $10,000 less than what the median man made.
Some other key takeaways from the report on U.S. income include:
“The good news is the economy is moving in the right direction. We’ve recovered almost all the ground lost during the Great Recession. The bad news, of course: We’ve got a long way to go to get people at the bottom and in the middle to where they were at the turn of the century.” ~Sheldon Danziger, President of the Russel Sage Foundation