Middle-Class Income Sees Fastest Growth Ever: Report
Poverty rate fell too, though some say it's not enough to warrant a celebration just yet
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2016 1:04 PM CDT
Things are looking better, with caveats.   (AP Photo/Jon Elswick, File)

(Newser) – For seven long years, the US has been struggling to break out of a sluggish economy after the Great Recession, Bloomberg notes. Some "remarkable progress" on that front came Tuesday, per the White House blog: A US Census Bureau report says median household income (adjusted for inflation) for 2015 came in at $56,516, a rise of 5.2%. The highest income level before 2015's was $57,423 in 2007—and the 2015 boost was the fastest increase ever recorded by the feds, the Washington Post reports. Income grew the most for the lowest-paid workers, which the president of the Economic Policy Institute think tank calls "very welcome news." Meanwhile, the poverty rate for 2015 fell 1.2 percentage points from 2014 to 13.5%—43.1 million people, a decrease of 3.5 million—which the Post notes was the largest plummet since 1968. The suggested underlying reason: job gains.

Two different reactions to this news have already emerged from the two sides of the political fence. "This exceeds the strong expectation that I already had," Jason Furman, chair of the president's Council of Economic Advisers, tells the Post, emphasizing the growth rates. Not agreeing is Kevin Brady, GOP chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, who says those 43 million people still living in poverty are nothing to crow about. "Today’s report is another disappointing confirmation that too many Americans are still struggling to provide for their families and reach their full potential," he says. The New York Times notes the median household income still has a little way to go (1.6%) before it reaches 2007 levels, and 2.4% more before ascending to its late-1990s peak. (Hillary Clinton's thoughts on Donald Trump's economic plan.)