Alabama poverty rate decreasing, still way above USA average

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy meets Sikorsky Aircraft workers in September 2016 in Stratford Conn. while announcing a deal with Lockheed Martin Corp. to keep Sikorsky in the state through 2032. In 2016 the Northeast did not keep pace with a 3.2 percent increas

The median USA household income climbed 3.2% to $59,039, the Census Bureau said Tuesday.

Seven percent of American households pulled in more than $200,000 in 2016, another record=breaking mark, when adjusted for inflation.

For data nerds, September 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. With us to talk about all this is NPR economics correspondent John Ydstie. But it's important for observers not to conflate record median income with record living standards.

"I'm slowly saving and paying off bills", West told The Washington Post.

A niggling note: Many outlets are reporting that household incomes reached the highest level on record in 2016, but it's not so.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual income-based poverty report provides data that inform a range of policies and issues affecting Americans from taxes to immigration to trade policy. Rather than an increase in wages, household incomes rose because the number of full-time, year-round employees in the labor force has jumped over the last two years.

Additional census data providing poverty rates at the city level and state income statistics will be released Thursday, but experts said Tuesday's numbers bode well for Texas. And get this, Kelly; they're at the same level they were at the end of the tech boom in 1999.

"This has been two consecutive years of very strong income growth", said Trudy Renwick, assistant division chief at Census. Overall, the story was pretty upbeat in 2016, the previous year of President Barack Obama's term. That's not as great as last year's banner 5.2 percent growth rate, but it's still healthier than other government agencies have reported. Increasing the availability of full-time employment is great.

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Hirschl said low-skilled workers who once depended on manufacturing jobs to support their families are increasingly frozen out of the workforce by developments in robotics, artificial intelligence and advanced manufacturing practices that demand higher-skilled workers.

Meanwhile, the rate of people without health insurance declined only slightly a year ago, to 8.8 percent, the Census Bureau said.

That means that Americans are earning more on average than they have since the turn of the millennium.

YDSTIE: Yes, it did.

The number of poor decreased for most demographic groups except seniors, the only group that saw an increase, it added. Adults age 65 and older were the only major population group to see an increase in the number of people in poverty.

But since the 2007-2009 downturn ended, the gap between the top and bottom earners has ballooned, according to Census data. It shows that programs like Social Security, the earned income tax credit and SNAP, or food stamps, do lift tens of millions of Americans out of poverty every year. This continues the downward trend line for lack of insurance since the Affordable Care Act took effect. What's the news there? That's a slight improvement.

The nation's poverty rate - defined as the percentage of people making less than thresholds that vary by household size, such as $24,339 for a family of four - declined to 14 percent in 2016, from 14.7 percent the year before.

YDSTIE: You're welcome, Kelly.

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