A GM worker puts the finishing touches on a new General Motors 2016 Chevrolet Camaro.
The numbers: For the third straight year, real median household income rose, climbing 1.8% to $61,372 in 2017, .
The agency said that, due to changes in calculation, the level is statistically tied with 1999 and 2007. Looking at it a different way, the typical household has clawed back the losses in income from the Great Recession that started at the end of 2007.
The percentage of people in poverty fell to 12.3% from 12.7%, while the percentage of people without health insurance coverage stayed at 8.8%.
What happened: More Americans went back to work — the number of full-time male workers rose by 1.4 million and the number of full-time female workers grew by 1 million.
Real median earnings for those working full-time fell, slumping 1.1%. Put differently, while there were more workers, the typical earnings fell after adjusting for inflation. That could reflect the fact that the new hires were for low-paying jobs.
The real median earnings of all male workers rose 3% while that for female workers didn’t see a significant change. Still, the female-to-male earnings ratio was 80.5%, which wasn’t statistically different.
As the labor picture improved, so did the poverty numbers. Oddly, the only group to see an increase in the poverty rate was those with at least a bachelor’s degree, which rose by 0.3 percentage points, to 4.8%. All that said, people with at least a bachelor’s degree had the lowest poverty rate.
As for health insurance, it appears the gains from the enactment of the Affordable Care Act have levelled off. Coverage is still better than it was before the ACA went into effect, as the uninsured rate was 13.3% in 2013.
The big picture: The U.S. economy is getting better, but even with the second-longest economic expansion since World War II, there are still 39.7 million people in poverty.
What they’re saying: “The economy continues its gradual improvement from the Great Recession and the financial crisis. In the beginning of the recovery economic gains went primarily to higher-income households. But over time the recovery has broadened, and now more households are seeing the benefits,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist for PNC.
“The gain was more broadly-based than in 2016, when the top 5% of households saw the fastest average income gains. Instead, 2017 brought the firmest growth in average income to households in the 40th to 80th percentiles,” said David Deull, principal economist at IHS Markit.