Middle-Class Americans Made More In 2016 Than Ever In US History

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Median household incomes were higher in 2016 than ever before, surpassing a record set nearly two-decades ago in 1999, according to U.S. Census Bureau data released Tuesday.

Those in America’s middle class earned an average of $59,039 in 2016, up nearly $1,000 from the 1999 high of $58,655. The figures for 2016 mark the second consecutive annual increase in the median household income — a closely watched metric for how the American middle class is doing from year to year, adjusted for inflation. Real median incomes for family and non-family households were up 2.7 percent and 4.5 percent, respectively.

The median household income took a serious hit during and after the Great Recession. In the two years following the end of the Great Recession, median household income fell nearly $2,000 to $50,054 in 2011.

The Census Bureau reportedly changed its methodology in 2014, which could mean the numbers are not definitive.

One interesting measure to look at is the real income growth from 2008 to 2016, the years spanning former President Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House.

Real income grew drastically more for the top 10 percent of Americans than for the bottom 90 percent. Those in the 90th percentile of earnings saw their real incomes grow roughly 10.6 percent. Those in the median and bottom 10th percentile of earners saw their real incomes grow 5.3 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively.

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