Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016

  • Median U.S. household income up for 2nd straight year, By Binyamin Appelbaum, September 12, 2017, New York Times: “Despite eight years of economic growth since a brutal recession, some politicians and economists have worried that many Americans have not felt the benefits of the expansion. On Tuesday, the Census Bureau painted a brighter picture, suggesting that the recovery had shifted into a new phase in recent years and is now distributing its benefits more broadly…”
  • Median household income hits $59,039, rising for 2nd straight year, By Paul Davidson, September 13, 2017, USA Today: “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…”
  • American household income finally topped 1999 peak last year, By Christopher Rugaber (AP), September 12, 2017, Washington Post: “In a stark reminder of the damage done by the Great Recession and of the modest recovery that followed, the median American household only last year finally earned more than it did in 1999…”
  • American households finally earn more than they did in 1999, By Don Lee, September 12, 2107, Los Angeles Times: “After a long period of plodding economic growth, significant earnings gains over the last two years have finally enabled the average American household to surpass the peak income level it reached in 1999. The median household income in the U.S. climbed to $59,039 last year, up 3.2% from 2015 after adjusting for inflation, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday…”
  • Census Bureau: Median incomes rose and poverty levels fell In 2016, By Merrit Kennedy, September 12, 2017, National Public Radio: “There’s good news on three primary U.S. economic benchmarks: the poverty rate, income level and number of people covered by health insurance. New figures released by the Census Bureau Tuesday show median household income in 2016 was $59,039 — more than 3 percent higher than in 2015…”
  • New Census data shows more Americans emerging from poverty, By Alana Semuels, September 12, 2017, The Atlantic: “Eight years after the end of the Great Recession, more of America’s poorest families are beginning to emerge from poverty, suggesting that the effects of a booming job market and an expanded safety net may finally be helping the country’s most vulnerable residents. Census data released today show that the number of people living in poverty has finally returned to pre-recession levels, with poverty declining for all ethnic groups…”

Poverty Measurement – California

Why does California have nation’s highest poverty level?, By Dan Walters, August 17, 2017, Modesto Bee: “With all the recent hoopla about California’s record-low unemployment rate and the heady prospect of its becoming No. 5 in global economic rankings, it is easy to lose sight of another salient fact: It is the nation’s most poverty-stricken state. So says the U.S. Census Bureau in its ‘supplemental measure’ of poverty, which is more accurate than the traditional measure because it takes into account not only income, but living costs…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015

  • Median incomes are up and poverty rate is down, surprisingly strong census figures show, By Don Lee, September 13, 2016, Los Angeles Times: “The economic recovery is finally providing relief to America’s long-running problem of stagnant middle-class incomes.  The Census Bureau’s unexpectedly-rosy annual report on poverty and incomes, released Tuesday, showed the biggest improvement in decades on both fronts…”
  • Middle class incomes had their fastest growth on record last year, By Jim Tankersley, September 13, 2016, Washington Post: “Middle-class Americans and the poor enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades in 2015, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday, a spike that broke a years-long streak of disappointment for American workers but did not fully repair the damage inflicted by the Great Recession…”
  • The middle class gets a big raise … finally!, By Tami Luhby, September 13, 2016, CNN Money: “After years of watching their incomes go nowhere, America’s middle class finally got a big raise last year.  Median household income rose to $56,516 in 2015, up 5.2% from a year earlier, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday. It marks the first increase in median income since 2007, the year before the Great Recession started…”
  • U.S. household income grew 5.2 percent in 2015, breaking pattern of stagnation, By Binyamin Appelbaum, September 13, 2016, New York Times: “Americans last year reaped the largest economic gains in nearly a generation as poverty fell, health insurance coverage spread and incomes rose sharply for households on every rung of the economic ladder, ending years of stagnation…”
  • Has the American economy hit a turning point?, By Deirdre Fernandes and Evan Horowitz, September 13, 2016, Boston Globe: “Middle-class Americans finally got a raise in 2015. And it was a big one.  After years of glacial economic growth and stagnant wages, median household income jumped 5 percent, or nearly $3,000, from 2014, according to data released Tuesday by the Census Bureau. That’s the first meaningful increase since 2007 and the biggest bounce on record, offering fresh evidence that this economic recovery is now reaching a broader swath of American workers…”
  • Americans got raise last year for first time since 2007, By Christopher Rugaber and Jesse J. Holland (AP), September 13, 2016, Miami Herald: “In a long-awaited sign that middle-class Americans are finally seeing real economic gains, U.S. households got a raise last year after seven years of stagnant incomes. Rising pay also lifted the poorest households, cutting poverty by the sharpest amount in nearly a half-century…”
  • Things are getting a lot better for the working poor, By Max Ehrenfreund, September 13, 2016, Washington Post: “Last year marked the greatest improvement in the typical American family’s finances on record, according to a new annual report from the Census Bureau, especially for the working poor…”

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2014

  • U.S. poverty rate and incomes remained stagnant in 2014, report says, By Don Lee, September 16, 2015, Los Angeles Times: “Despite steady job growth and a sizeable drop in the unemployment rate, the nation’s poverty rate showed no improvement last year, and the typical American household, once again, saw no real gain in income…”
  • Health care gains, but income remains stagnant, the White House reports, By Robert Pear, September 16, 2015, New York Times: “Nearly nine million people gained health insurance last year, lowering the ranks of the uninsured to 10.4 percent of the population. But there was no statistically significant change in income for the typical American household in 2014, the Obama administration said on Wednesday…”
  • Household income, poverty numbers stay about the same, By Jesse J. Holland (AP), September 16, 2015, Christian Science Monitor: “The wallets of America’s middle class and poorest aren’t seeing any extra money, the U.S. Census reported Wednesday, a financial stagnation experts say may be fueling political dissent this campaign season. The Census Bureau, in its annual look at poverty and income in the United States, said both the country’s median income and poverty rate were statistically unchanged in 2014 from the previous year…”
  • American wages remain at 1997 levels as recovery fails to lift middle class, By Jana Kasperkevic, September 16, 2015, The Guardian: “On average Americans are still earning the same wages they were in 1997 and 46.7 million are still living in poverty, seven years after the 2008 crash, according to the US census bureau…”

Poverty Measurement

Who’s poor? Depends how you measure it, By Amy Crawford, March 1, 2015, Boston Globe: “As Mitt Romney flirted with the idea of a third presidential run in January, the former Massachusetts governor called for a new war on poverty in America. Romney’s remarks, which briefly got both parties talking about the issue, were surprising not only because he had drawn flak during his 2012 campaign for claiming that he was ‘not concerned about the very poor,’ but also because American political discourse has always focused more on the frustrations of the middle class than the struggles of the least fortunate.  One reason politicians target their appeals to people in the middle of the socioeconomic scale is pragmatic: They are more likely to vote than those at the bottom. But it’s also because poverty is a particularly intractable and confounding problem. As a culture, we’re not sure how to explain who ends up in poverty—whether they’re disadvantaged by the system, lazy, or just unlucky. In fact, we can’t even agree on what poverty means…”

Supplemental Poverty Measure

  • Report: Kansas child poverty would double without government aid, By Jonathan Shorman, February 25, 2015, Topeka Capital-Journal: “Twice as many Kansas children would be in poverty without government aid, a new report shows.  According to just-released data from Kids Count, a data project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, government programs have kept about 103,000 children out of poverty in the past few years. Kansas’ child poverty rate, which stands at 15 percent under the Kids Count measure, would rise to 30 percent without assistance…”
  • Government programs cut state’s child poverty in half, report says, By Katie Johnson, February 25, 2015, Boston Globe: “More than 220,000 children in Massachusetts were kept out of poverty with the help of government assistance — reducing the child poverty rate by half, according to a report to be released Wednesday.  Nationwide, state and federal programs such as tax credits, nutrition and energy assistance, and housing subsidies cut the child poverty rate from 33 to 18 percent, keeping more than 11 million children out of poverty, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore philanthropy that helps children at risk of poor educational, economic, social, and health outcomes…”
  • Decades-old poverty measurements inaccurate, says report by Annie E. Casey Foundation, By Mike Averill, February 25, 2015, Tulsa World: “Decades-old poverty measurements fail to show the effect of programs designed to combat childhood poverty, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  ‘Measuring Access to Opportunity in the United States,’ released Wednesday by the foundation, points to the Supplement Poverty Measure as a better index for measuring poverty because, unlike the official federal measurement created in the 1960s, this method captures the effect of safety-net programs and tax policies on families.  When using the U.S. Census Bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure, the rate of children in poverty in Oklahoma drops from 30 percent to 14 percent, according to the report…”

Supplemental Poverty Measure

  • Alternative poverty rate declines to 15.5% from 16%, By Neil Shah, October 16, 2014, Wall Street Journal: “Poverty in America declined in 2013 from the year before, according to an alternative measure released by the Census Bureau on Thursday that many economists consider more comprehensive than the nation’s official rate. According to this ‘supplemental’ measure, the poverty rate dropped from 16% to 15.5%. However, roughly 48.7 million people were still below the poverty line in 2013—not statistically different from 2012, Census said. The drop echoes the recent fall in the official poverty rate, reported in September. That rate dropped from 15% to 14.5%, thanks entirely to reduced poverty among Hispanics…”
  • Census Bureau: California still has highest U.S. poverty rate, By Dan Walters, October 16, 2014, Sacramento Bee: “California continues to have – by far – the nation’s highest level of poverty under an alternative method devised by the Census Bureau that takes into account both broader measures of income and the cost of living. Nearly a quarter of the state’s 38 million residents (8.9 million) live in poverty, a new Census Bureau report says, a level virtually unchanged since the agency first began reporting on the method’s effects…”
  • Is poverty in Mass. worse than we thought?, By Evan Horowitz, October 16, 2014, Boston Globe: “The real poverty rate in Massachusetts may be higher than we thought, according to a new and improved poverty assessment released this morning by the Census Bureau. Whereas the so-called ‘official’ rate puts state poverty at 11.5 percent, the new more comprehensive measure suggests that actually 1 of every 7 people in Massachusetts lives in poverty, or 13.8 percent…”
  • Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, By Patrick Gillespie, October 16, 2014, CNN Money: “Over 48 million Americans live in poverty, according to a special report by the Census Bureau Thursday. It provides an alternative look at the worst off people in the nation than the official numbers that come out in September. Government programs such as food stamps do help some people, especially children, but even so 16% of American children are living in poverty, according to the supplemental report…”