Household Income Rises for Third Straight Year

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There is a good trend happening for average household income. It’s going up, and that marks the third straight year. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, real median household income rose 1.8% in 2017 over 2016 and the official poverty rate fell by 0.4 points. Median U.S. household income in dollar terms rose to $61,372 in 2017 from $60,309 in 2016. There is still some less than rosy news when race and sex are taken into consideration, and this has been outlined below.

The nation’s official poverty rate was 12.3% in 2017, with 39.7 million people counted as living in poverty. The 0.4-point drop was also the third consecutive annual decline in poverty.

The Census Bureau also released data on health insurance, and while the number of people without insurance ticked up to 28.5 million from 28.1 million in 2016, the percentage of people without insurance remained flat at 8.8%.

Data were also presented for race, origin, sex and other issues for 2017:

  • Real median income of family households rose by 1.4% to $77,713 in 2017 from 2016.
  • Real median income for married-couple households increased 1.6% between 2016 and 2017.
  • Real median income of households maintained by non-Hispanic whites ($68,145) and Hispanics ($50,486) increased 2.6% and 3.7%, respectively.
  • Households maintained by Asians had the highest median income in 2017 at $81,331.
  • The differences between the 2016 and 2017 percentage changes in median income for non-Hispanic white (2.6%) and Hispanic (3.7%) households were not statistically significant.
  • The real median income of households maintained by a native-born person increased 1.5%.
  • Real median income of households maintained by a foreign-born person was not statistically different from 2016.
  • Real median earnings of all male workers increased by 3.0% to $44,408.
  • Real median earnings for their female counterparts ($31,610) saw no statistically significant change between 2016 and 2017.

The Census report went deeper into the earnings of men and women as well:

In 2017, the real median earnings of men ($52,146) and women ($41,977) working full-time, year-round each decreased from their respective 2016 medians by 1.1 percent. The 2017 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.805, not statistically different from the 2016 ratio. The difference between the 2016-2017 percentage change in median earnings for men and women working full-time, year-round was not statistically significant.

The number of men and women working full-time, year-round increased by 1.4 million and 1.0 million, respectively, between 2016 and 2017. The difference between the 2016-2017 increases in the number of men and women working full-time, year-round was not statistically significant.

Having a college degree obviously pays off in the long run, but there are some issues to consider when you see the data. The Census report said:

Between 2016 and 2017, people with at least a bachelor’s degree were the only group to have an increase in the poverty rate or the number of people in poverty. Among this group, the poverty rate increased 0.3 percentage points and the number in poverty increased by 363,000 individuals between 2016 and 2017. Even with this increase, among educational attainment groups, people with at least a bachelor’s degree had the lowest poverty rates in 2017.

Reports of this magnitude sometimes look good and sometimes look bad. The overall numbers for 2017 look good in general, but there are some obvious exceptions here.