September 14, 2016

Americans received a pay rise in 2015

A report released by the US Census Bureau announced that that real median household income increased by 5.2% between 2014 and 2015. At the same time, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

The median income in 2015 per household was $56,516 compared to $53,718 in 2014. The report also showed that the number of Americans in poverty fell by 3.5 million last year, representing the largest annual drop since 1999.

The report contradicts the widely held belief that the average American is seeing their economic fortunes decline, a narrative that has become prevalent during the current US Presidential campaign. However median incomes are still lower today than in 2007. Furthermore, middle class Americans have not necessarily seen their standard of living increase as the integration of the global economy has seen incomes grow for the very rich and the very poor. Americans may also feel poorer as the cost of healthcare and education has risen more than overall inflation and middle-class incomes.

Martin Biewen has written about Poverty persistence and poverty dynamics for the IZA World of Labor. He suggests that "…economic policies promoting education, employment, and attachment to work will be most effective in reducing the risks of persistent poverty." Policies that facilitate the balance of commitments to home and work (such as childcare subsidies) can reduce the risk of poverty.

Related articles:
Poverty persistence and poverty dynamics by Martin Biewen
The minimum wage versus the earned income tax credit for reducing poverty by Richard V. Burkhauser