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A look at the new data on income, poverty, health insurance
Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson September 14, 2017

For data nerds, Sept. 12 was a pretty big day -- the day that the Census Bureau released its yearly statistical reports on income and poverty, and on health insurance. The newly released data covers 2016.

To help readers cut through the weeds, we’ll summarize a few of the key statistics here.

Median income

Median household income hit $59,039 in 2016, an inflation-adjusted increase 3.2 percent over 2015. It marked the second consecutive year that median household income increased. It was also the highest median household income level ever recorded, after adjusting for inflation.

As the chart below shows, Asian-Americans had the highest incomes, followed by non-Hispanic whites. Both were above the overall average. Hispanics ranked below the overall average, with African-Americans ranking below Hispanics.

However, all racial and ethnic groups have seen two consecutive years of increased median household incomes.

As for gender, men who worked full-time, year-round, earned $51,640 in 2016, compared to $41,554 for women, not significantly different than the median by gender in 2015. The female-to-male earnings ratio was 81 cents to the dollar when rounded up, a slight increase from the 2015 ratio of 80 cents to the dollar, taking account of rounding.


The poverty rate in 2016 was 12.7 percent, down from 13.5 percent in 2015 and roughly equal to its pre-recession level in 2007. Poverty declined for the second consecutive year, and the raw number of Americans in poverty -- 40.6 million -- was 2.5 million people smaller than in 2015.

Among racial and ethnic groups, African-Americans and Hispanics both registered poverty rates above the national average. Asian-Americans were below-average, while non-Hispanic whites had the lowest percentage overall, at 8.8 percent.

Income inequality

After two consecutive annual drops, the standard measurement of income inequality rose by a small amount in 2016, continuing its long-term rise. Under this measurement, a score of 0.0 represents total income equality, while a score of 1.0 represents total inequality.

Lack of health insurance

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage for all of 2016 was 8.8 percent in 2016, lower than the 9.1 percent measured in 2015. This continues the downward trend line for lack of insurance since the Affordable Care Act took effect.

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A look at the new data on income, poverty, health insurance