US Household Income Hits Record High in 2016: Improvements for Everyone

Print Email

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks many economic readings, and one that hits home for every American is how much income each person makes. A fresh report from the bureau showed that U.S. household income and earnings rose to a record median reading in 2016. That median household income was $59,039 in 2016, up 3.2% from the $57,230 median household reading in 2015.

Family median income for households rose 2.7% to $75,062 in 2016. Apparently it pays to be married, because married-couple households saw a 1.6% rise in the median household income to $87,057 in 2016.

Nonfamily households had a median income of $35,761 in 2016, and that was up $467 (or 4.5%) from the $34,232 median in 2015.

And by race, Asian households had the highest median income, but black households had the largest percentage gain. Household median income rose as follows in 2016 (versus 2015):

  • White, $61,858 (up 1.6%)
  • White, not Hispanic, $65,041 (up 2.0%)
  • Black, $39,490 (up 5.7%)
  • Asian, $81,431 (up 4.2%)
  • Hispanic (any race), $47,675 (up 4.3%)

It is also important to focus on the poverty rates in America. The nation’s official poverty rate of 12.6% in 2016 generated 40.6 million people in poverty. While this number is still higher than it should be, it was actually 2.5 million fewer people than were recorded in 2015. The Census Bureau noted that the 0.8-point drop from 2015 to 2016 was the second consecutive annual decline in poverty. It was also represented to be not statistically different from the 2007 rate of 12.5%, the year before the most recent recession.

A last reading was on the gender gap, the difference between what men earn and what women earn. The gender pay gap narrowed for full-time women workers in 2016 to 80.5% of men, compared with 79.6% in 2015. This was the first time the female-to-male earnings ratio has risen since 2007, and there were an estimated 74.8% of working men with earnings and 62.2% of working women with earnings worked full time. The Census reading on the gender gap does not account for hours worked, occupational choices or the types of benefits preferred by workers.

Of the top and bottom brackets earning income, the top 5% of earners had 22.5% of total income in 2016, versus 22.1% in 2015. The top 20% of earners accounted for 51.5% of all income, versus 51.1% in 2015. And the bottom 20% of earners took in just 3.1% of the total earnings in 2016, the same 3.1% as in 2015.

Another measurement was on health insurance. The Census report said:

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for the entire 2016 calendar year was 8.8 percent, down from 9.1 percent in 2015. The number of people without health insurance declined to 28.1 million from 29.0 million over the period.

There were many more measurements of income based on singles and other metrics, but by and large 2016 was a year that was better for just about every group tracked.