Recession Officially Over for Median Household Income

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The median US household's income finally topped pre-recession levels last year and has reached an all-time high after years of sluggish growth.

When the Census Bureau released figures a year ago, the nation's 2015 median income showed a more dramatic increase, rising 5.2 percent between 2014 and 2015. After two straight years of solid income gains, the median American household last year essentially earned the same as it did in 1999, when incomes peaked at $58,665.

The Census data said it changed its income questions in 2014, which makes it hard to make comparisons before that year. That puts income just 1.6 percent below what households earned before the recession started in late 2007, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a left-leaning think tank. The U.S. economy added a total of 2 million jobs past year, ending with a 4.7% unemployment rate, down from 5% at the close of 2015.

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The Census Bureau reported Tuesday that the poverty rate fell 0.8% to 12.7% in 2016 - meaning 2.5 million people escaped poverty.

Family households have a real median income of $75,062, and non-family households bring in $35,761.

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. The official poverty measure dropped to 12.7 percent, down from 13.5 percent last year, and 14.8 percent the year before that. Nevertheless, the Census data indicates that the most recent income gains have pushed household income close to where it stood in 2007.

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The bureau also said 28.1 million people in the United States, or 8.8 percent, lacked health insurance coverage in 2016 compared with 29 million, or 9.1 percent, in 2015.

The income gains reflect mostly a rise in the number of Americans with jobs and in people working full time, the agency said. There were 40.6 million people living in poverty.

Another trouble spot can be found for full-time male workers, who saw their incomes slide previous year.

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Regionally, the Northeastern United States has the highest median household income at $64,390. Women earned 80.5 percent of men's earnings, up from 79.6 percent in 2015.

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