Recovering from recession?
On September 13th, the United States Census Bureau released its annual reports on income, poverty and health insurance coverage. This year the results have been widely regarded as a milestone in the country’s economic expansion process that began in 2009. According to the Bureau, between 2014 and 2015 the incomes of American households have increased, the poverty rate decreased and fewer citizens are living without health insurance.
Median household income increased in real terms by 5.2% (from $53,718 to $56,516), and it’s the first annual increase in median household income since 2007. The national rate of poverty decreased 1.2 percentage points (3.5 million fewer people) - the largest annual percentage point drop in the poverty rate since 1999. In terms of health insurance, the percentage of people without coverage dropped from 10.4 to 9.1 percent.
The report, based on a survey of 95,000 households, also shows that among those households that have experienced increased income, Hispanic households stand out, as well as those in the Western region of the country. Additionally, the proportion of married-couple families and families with a female householder living in poverty decreased. The percentage of men and women living in poverty saw a similar change.
Despite the good news, it seems that the economic recovery is not complete. According to Binyamin Appelbaum from the New York Times, even though the numbers are good compared to preceding years, they haven’t reach pre-recession levels.
Adjusting for inflation, median household income is 1.6 percent lower than in 2007 and 2.4 percent lower than its peak in 1999. In terms of the number of Americans living in poverty, even though the rate has decreased, it’s still higher compared to 2000 and 2006 rates.
It’s undeniable that 2015 was a good year for the economy, and a good year is the beginning to a recovered economy; yet, we should be cautious when we analyze the numbers.
TeachingWithData.org is a partnership between the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Social Science Data Analysis Network (SSDAN), both at the University of Michigan. The project is funded by NSF Award 0840642, George Alter (ICPSR), PI and William Frey (SSDAN), co-PI.
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