It might not appear so with all the controversy swirling around President Donald Trump’s nascent administration, and who knows how long it’s going to last under Trump, but according to Tuesday’s Census Bureau report, in 2015, the American middle-class and poor experienced the best year of economic improvement in decades.
Two years ago, median household income was $56,500 compared to the previous year’s $53,700. That may not seem like much, but it was the most significant increase the Census Bureau recorded since the 1960s, when it began tracking median income.
The poverty rate also fell the sharpest since 1968. 3.5 million fewer people are considered poor today than in 2014.
Moreover, because of the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare), the number of Americans without health insurance coverage fell to 9.1%, 1.3 percentage points.
Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under former president Barack Obama, said this latest census report is the strongest he’s ever seen.
In an interview, he said:
“This exceeds the strong expectation that I already had. The news here is the growth rates. I’ve read the last 21 reports, including this one. I have never seen one like this, in terms of, everything you look at is what you’d want to see or better.”
Of course there are those who interpret this as bad news for America. The numbers, they argue, should be better.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said in a statement:
“Today’s report is another disappointing confirmation that too many Americans are still struggling to provide for their families and reach their full potential. The federal government invests billions of dollars each year in programs to help low-income Americans — but more than 43 million people continue to live in poverty. It shouldn’t be this way in America.”
However, the report’s figures contradict Donald Trump’s constant claims Barack Obama left him a shambles. Although, as Rep. Brady stated, Americans are still struggling, the report confirms that, over all, working people’s lives are improving.
Jacob Leibenluft, a senior policy adviser to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaign, agrees.
“These are really positive numbers by and large. They show real progress. This is definitely at odds with the picture that Trump provides.”
Lawrence Mishel, president of the liberal Economic Policy Institute think tank, concurred:
“The highest income growth was in the bottom fifth [of workers], which is very welcome news.”
After adjusting for inflation, the gains raised median incomes almost back to their pre-2008 recession levels, though they remain below 1999 levels.
On the campaign trail, Trump relied on previous Census data to argue median income stagnation. As of Tuesday afternoon, he still had not released a statement on the new report.
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