On Tuesday, September 13, the US Census Bureau released their annual data with some surprisingly positive results.
The number of insured and the median income rose while the poverty rate decreased. The overall poverty rate now stands at 13.5 percent, a decrease of 1.2 percentage points between 2014 and 2015. That represents the biggest percentage point drop in poverty since 1999. Even with the progress that still translates into more than 43 million poor people in a country of more than 312 million people. In terms of decreases there are 3.5 million fewer people in poverty in 2015 compared to 2014.
In regard to health insurance coverage there were positive trends in this area also with the number of uninsured and the percentage of uninsured down to 9.1 percent from 10.4 percent from the previous year. That translates into a decrease of 4 million uninsured. The number of people without health insurance declined to 29 million from 33 million between 2014 and 2015. The state with the lowest percentage of uninsured is Massachusetts at 2.8 percent while the state with the highest rate of uninsured individuals was the state of Texas at 17.1 percent. Texas is one of the states that has not taken the option to extend Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Despite that the uninsured rate decreased in 47 states with only North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming not experiencing a significant decrease in the uninsured rates. South Dakota and Wyoming have not taken the ACA option to expand Medicaid coverage.
In regard to the overall income the median household income increased by 5.2 percent. In 2015 the average median income was $56,516 from the $53,718 in the previous year. This is the first annual increase in that figure since 2007 before the great recession.
Family household incomes was set at $72,000 and non-family households was $33,805 also increases of 5.3 and 5.4 percent respectively. By racial breakdown of the median income for Hispanic households increased by 6.1 percent, for non-Hispanic white households the increase was 4.4 percent and for black households 4.1 percent. All regions of the country experienced increases in income with the West getting of the biggest increase of 6.4 percent and the South the lowest at 2.9 percent.
In terms of poverty for families, poverty stood at 10.4 percent—equal to 8.6 million families. That is a decreased from 9.5 million families in 2014. In 2015 5.4 percent of married couples were in poverty while the numbers were worse for households headed up by a single adult. For households headed up by a woman the poverty rate was 28.2 percent and for single families headed by a man the poverty rate stood at 14.9 percent. Both figures are lower than the year before.
Despite the good news the poverty rate still showed a disparity especially at younger ages. Children under the age of five still had the highest poverty rate at 21.4 percent or 4.2 million children. Also unchanged were young adults ages 18 to 24 with the poverty rate at 19.6 percent. Seventy percent of poor children and 84 percent of low income children (those at twice the poverty rate) lived with at least one worker in the family. Approximately one third of black children and three in ten Hispanic children live in poverty despite high levels of work in those households.