While you may not have noticed it in your home state or city, the officially poverty rate in the United States has actually managed to recover back to pre-recession levels back in 2016. According to a report from Investopedia, using data from the US Census Bureau, the poverty rate in the United States fell for the second straight year in 2016 while median income rose to an all-time high of $59,000 as the economy made up ground lost during the 2007-2009 recession, federal government data released on Tuesday showed.
Median household income rose 3.2% from $57,200 a year earlier, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report. It surpassed the previous high of $58,665 in 1999 during the nation's record 10-year economic expansion, although the Census Bureau said the figures were not directly comparable because of methodology changes. When asked about the income jump, Census officials pointed to a rise in the number of people working more hours and more often even as wages appeared flat.
At the same time, the Bureau said 2016's official U.S. poverty rate was about where it was before the recent U.S. recession: the 12.7% poverty rate was a decrease of 0.8 percentage points from 13.5% in 2015, and it was almost on par with the 12.5% reading from 2007.
According to the Census Bureau, more than 40.6 million people in the United States were living in poverty last year, which as actually 2.5 million fewer than in 2015 and 6.0 million fewer than in 2014.
The number of poor decreased for just about all demographic groups except seniors - this was only group that saw an increase. The official poverty rate still varies depending on household size and income. Additionally, they said the supplemental poverty measure was 14.0%. That metric factors in various expenses and regional differences in the cost of living as well as the support the poor might receive from government programs.The Bureau also said that 28.1 million people in the United States, or 8.8%, lacked health insurance coverage in 2016 compared with 29 million, or 9.1%, in 2015 -- a number that has been steadily improving.
Despite the gains we've experienced as a country, there is still much more to be done to help those who are truly in poverty. As you can see from the map below (not all that different in 2015 to 2016 on a state level since the ranges are wide), the majority of those living in poverty are primarily concentrated in the South, something that has been frequently acknowledged but rarely followed up upon. As the gap between income classes widens, this also opens the door for more individuals living in poverty to sink into deep despair...something that we as a society should concentrating on solving, especially since all other aspects of the economy have been so strong as of late.
(Map made using the analysis tools from the US Census Bureau's website by CLICKING HERE)
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