WASHINGTON – America’s middle-class incomes shot up by 3.2 percent last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, after a decade marked by the Great Recession, weak economic growth and widespread unemployment.
The federal agency, which compiles economic statistics throughout the country, reported Tuesday that U.S. median household income climbed to $59,039 in 2016.
That’s a hefty increase over the previous year’s $57,230 median income figure. The nation’s poverty rate also fell last year to 12.7 percent, “with 40.6 million people in poverty, 2.5 million fewer than in 2015,” the report said.
However, the bureau said the poverty numbers were “not statistically different from the 2007 rate (12.5 percent), the year before the most recent recession.”
Large numbers of Americans are still at or below the poverty income line, and a number of cities are still losing jobs.
“Some 1.3 million people joined America’s civilian labor force over the past year,” says a survey report by the 24/7 Wall St. website.
But “the recovery has eluded some parts of the country. Approximately 1 in 5 U.S. metro areas lost jobs over the past 12 months, and the number of employed persons has decreased by at least 1% in 25 of the country’s 388 metropolitan areas,” writes Steven M. Peters.
Among some of the job losers: Binghamton, N.Y., where unemployment is 5.5%; Williamsport, Penn., 5.6%; Lafayette, La., 5.7%; Rocky Mount, N.C., 6.1 percent; Danville, Ill., 6.7 percent; Shreveport-Bossier City, La., 5.7%; Rockford, Ill., 6.3%; Elmira, N.Y., 5.5%; and Caspar, Wy., 5.2%.
Lagging job growth was clearly evident last month when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that the economy produced a lower-than-projected 156,000 jobs.
Wage growth was pathetic, too. Average hourly wages increased a mere 3 cents in August.
Earlier this summer, the BLS appeared much too eager to report that…