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American household income finally topped 1999 peak last year

By: CHRISTOPHER RUGABER , AP Economics Writer
September 12, 2017 Updated: September 12, 2017 at 9:31 am
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FILE - In this Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, file photo, people shop in Miami. After years of sluggish growth, typical U.S. household incomes finally topped pre-recession levels in 2016 and reached an all-time high, according to information released by the Census Bureau, Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File)

WASHINGTON — The median U.S. household's income finally topped pre-recession levels in 2016 after two strong years of increases.

Incomes for a typical U.S. household, adjusted for inflation, rose 3.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to $59,039, the Census Bureau said. The median is the point at which half the households fall below and half are above.

Last year's figure is slightly above the previous peak of $58,665, reached in 1999.

Trudi Renwick, the bureau's assistant division chief, cautioned that the census in 2013 changed how it asks households about income, making historical comparisons less than precise.

Still, incomes for the typical household have risen solidly for two straight years. Those gains came after a steep recession and slow recovery that left most American households with meager pay growth. The lack of meaningful raises has left many people feeling left behind economically, a sentiment that factored into the 2016 elections.

The Census report covers 2016, the last year of the Obama administration.

The poverty rate fell last year to 12.7 percent from 13.5 percent, Census said. The number of people living below the poverty line fell 2.5 million to 40.6 million.

The proportion of Americans without health insurance fell to 8.8 percent, the report showed, down from 9.1 percent.

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