Money

Ordinary Americans Are Finally Recovering from the Financial Crash, Says Report

Americans' median household income saw a 5.2 percent increase last year for the first time since the Great Recession.
September 13, 2016, 5:54pm
​ Photo via Wikimedia Commons/DEA.

Life may be objectively better than it's ever been, but it really doesn't feel like it most of the time. On Tuesday, though, the US Census Bureau released a report giving some credence to the idea that things are looking up.

According to the bureau's annual report on income and poverty, Americans' median household income saw a 5.2 percent increase over the course of 2015. That's the sharpest rise the federal government has recorded since it began keeping such records in 1968. This marks the first time since 2007—the year before the Great Recession—that median household income has increased at all.

Graph via the White House

The White House immediately released a video touting the findings. "The good news is that [income] went up for everybody—all income groups, except those at the very, very top," President Obama said to his grinning chief economist Jason Furman in the video.

The report's poverty numbers were also encouraging. The poverty rate saw a 1.2 percent decrease in 2015, which is the fastest decline in poverty on record—3.5 million fewer Americans were living in poverty than in 2014. Although, it still means 43.1 million Americans live in poverty.

In response to the report, Representative Kevin Brady, a Republican from Texas, and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, claimed that "too many Americans are still struggling to provide for their families and reach their full potential." He added, "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."

Still, the new numbers fly in the face of a pessimistic talking point about income that has become common throughout this election cycle. "The real wages for our workers have not been raised for eighteen years," Donald Trump said in June. And from Hillary Clinton in February: "Americans haven't had a raise in 15 years."

Well, it looks like we just did.

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