There is much to cheer in the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 report on American incomes, poverty, and health coverage released Tuesday.
Median real income household income rose 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, and the poverty rate declined by 1.2 percentage points.
The percentage of Americans without health insurance coverage declined to 9.1 from 10.4 in 2014. Overall, the number of Americans without health insurance declined to 29 million.
These numbers point to an economy that is seriously starting to rebound from the Great Recession. The Census also notes that number of “full-time, year- round workers increased by 2.4 million in 2015.”
But many Americans continue to see their incomes lag behind where they were around a decade ago.
Median household income increased from 2014 to 2015, but it is still 5 percent behind where it was in 2007.
“To the extent that families have climbed out of that deep recession hole, that’s obviously a positive near-term development, but it doesn’t erase a long period of broader stagnation,” Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget Policy Priorities and former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, told The Intercept.
Economic Policy Institute economist Valerie Wilson, related the new census numbers with historical data and found that while African-American real median household incomes rose to $36,898 last year, they are still below where they were in 2007 ($39,584) and 2000 ($41,689).
“We’re happy to see the big boost over the last year but there was a really big hole to get out of,” Wilson told The Intercept.
One group didn’t see any gains at all between 2014 and 2015: rural Americans. Median income and poverty levels for Americans outside of cities and suburbs remained flat.
UPDATE September 16, 2016:
Additional Census data released on Thursday as part of the American Community Survey provides more insight into household incomes and poverty. Using this data, the CBPP finds that household incomes increased and poverty fell at “essentially the same pace” for non-metropolitan (rural) areas and metropolitan (urban and suburban) areas.