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America's falling poverty rate, in context

14 September 2017

The poverty rate in the United States dropped previous year to 12.7 percent, the lowest level since before the recession a decade ago, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Thursday.

One of the chief drivers of New Hampshire's high median income is its poverty rate, which is the lowest in the nation.

The Boston area - a region that includes parts of southern New Hampshire - saw its median household income rise 3.3 percent past year, from $79,783 to $82,380. It is also below the $51,938 earned in the 2000 Internet boom, or the $52,222 earned in the 2007 property bubble when large-scale legal and illegal immigration provided employers with millions of alternative imported workers.

The new data show the income gap between men and women shrinking to an all-time low. Incomes rose a bit for non-Hispanic white ($65,041), Hispanic ($47,675), and black families ($39,490), but were lower than their Asian neighbors. Economic experts applauded that as indicative of a strengthening job market. At that time, there was a jump of 3.2 percent in median income for those answering the new questions. Without more wage gains, momentum could slow.

The bureau reported 40.6 million people in the United States are considered living in poverty, or 2.5 million fewer than in 2015.

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At the same time, the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

"There's a danger that this is as good as it gets", explained Peter Atwater of Financial Insyghts. Overall since 2014, total employment rose by 4.6 million, with full-time, year-round employment accounting for the entirety of the net growth in jobs.

Bailey said the minimum wage increases influence the poverty rate.

Much of Trump's agenda remains pending, however, either awaiting action by his administration or bogged down in Congress. "You have growing uncertainty that Washington will be able to create any sort of tax relief or infrastructure plan", Atwater said.

In 2017, the number and percentage of shared households remained higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.

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Average household income fell from about $73,384 to $71,375, suggesting slower growth of upper end earnings. But 2016 marked the second straight year of increases.

Nonfamily households had a median income of $35,761 in 2016, and that was up $467 (or 4.5%) from the $34,232 median in 2015.

Still, the Census Bureau cautioned that comparing the figures was inexact because the agency in 2013 changed how it asks people about their income. The U.S. economy added a total of 2 million jobs past year, ending with a 4.7% unemployment rate, down from 5% at the close of 2015. Tell me more about that.

Happy days may be here again for America's middle class.

Almost all of America's largest cities made progress as well - except for Houston, where the poverty rate rose slightly to 14.8 percent, and San Antonio, where it rose to 15 percent.

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• The difference between the 2015 to 2016 percentage changes in median income for households in all regions were not statistically significant. "The goal should be to continue this progress".

America's falling poverty rate, in context