U.S. median income saw its first annual rise in eight years, according to data released by the Census Bureau in September of 2016. Median household income saw a 5.2% boost from $53,718 in 2014 to $56,516 in 2015. According to the Census Bureau report, that’s the first jump in the figure since 2007, which was the year before the country’s most recent recession. The income boost is notable not just for being the first rise in nearly a decade, but also because it spans several races and regions. In fact the real median income of White, Black and Hispanic populations all notched up by 4% to 6%, with Hispanics seeing the largest income increase.
— Martin Ford (@MFordFuture) September 14, 2016
First Median Income Boost in Years
In 2007, U.S. median income for all households hit an eight year high of $57,423. That was just $486 per year shy of the all time high of $57,909 reached in 1999. “Real income” means the figures shown in the chart below are adjusted for inflation, so they reflect real changes in the purchasing power of the typical American family. “Median” means that half the households in the country make more than that figure and the other half make less. It’s really a smack-in-the-middle number, as opposed to averages, which are often thrown off by the highest earning outliers like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg.
What About 2013?
The chart above shows the 2007 median income for all U.S. households at an eight year high of $57,423, basically equal to the highest real income ever enjoyed by American families. The 2008 recession saw an 8.2% drop in U.S. income down to a 2012 bottom of $52,666. Incomes apparently rose from there to $54,525 by 2013. While that’s technically an income increase of 3.5%, it’s also within that year’s margin of error. In other words, the rise wasn’t big enough that the Census Bureau could be certain it wasn’t just a glitch in their data. Not so the 5% rise from 2014 to 2015. That income boost is big enough that there’s no way it can be chalked up to sampling error.
No Median Income Increase for Asians
The only population demographic that didn’t see a median income increase from 2014 to 2015 is Asians. Technically the Asian population did see an income rise from $74,382 to $77,166. That’s a $2,784 jump of 3.7%, but since it’s within the study’s margin of error, it doesn’t count as a real income rise. However, the Asian population may take some small consolation from their already much higher median income as compared to the rest of the United States. In other words, Asians enjoy a median income that’s $20,650 a year higher than other groups. That gives the typical Asian family a full 36.5% more money per year than families from any other ethnic group.