WASHINGTON (Sept. 14, 2016) — Americans' incomes jumped in 2015 by the most since the last recession and the poverty rate fell — signs of U.S. economic health that potentially could boost Democratic candidates this year.
Fresh yearly data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed median, inflation-adjusted household income rose 5.2 percent to $56,516 in 2015, the highest level since $57,423 in 2007, when the great recession began. Gains were spread across the income spectrum and by race, while women's earnings inched closer to men's.
The data suggest incomes are getting a boost from job gains to help break out of the stagnancy that's been a blemish on the seven-year U.S. economic recovery. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, who gave Hillary Clinton a strong challenge for the Democratic nomination, have tried to appeal to voters in part by capitalizing on weak wage gains.
“A combination of employment growth as well as some modest acceleration in wages seem to be showing through,” said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist at Barclays P.L.C. in New York. “If you're looking at a comparison from what I call the bubble years, we're just getting back to those levels.”
The poverty rate was at 13.5 percent, representing 43.1 million Americans — a drop of 1.2 percentage points from 2014, the agency said.