For high-income Americans, the Great Recession is a distant memory, but for many middle-class and poor Americans, hard times have lingered. But the middle-class doldrums may finally be over.
The increases also helped close the gap in income between men and women to its lowest level since records have been kept.
For low-income families, the news was just as positive. In 2014, there were 46.6 million Americans living in poverty. By 2015, that number had dropped by some 3.5 million, according to the census report.
This follows similarly positive economic reports that have shown increased employment and a sharp decline in the number of Americans who are uninsured. Overall, just over 9 percent of Americans lack health insurance, a number that's down 1.3 percent from the previous year and has been slowly declining for several years. In 2010, the number of uninsured was roughly 18 percent.
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Researchers say the income improvements can be attributed to several factors, including an improved job market, low inflation and initiatives such as
At the same time, much of this needs to be kept in perspective.
As encouraging as these reports are, median-income households are still bringing home less pay, in real dollars, than they did in 2007, the year before the recession hit.
In addition, most of the middle-class Americans who benefited from pay raises last year live in cities and suburbs. Rural areas still are lagging behind in terms of wage and job growth.
These reports may not change much other than, perhaps, the doom-and-gloom dialogue of this presidential campaign, or of one candidate in particular. Let the record show that 2015 was more of a milestone than a millstone for the poor and the middle class. And it's a welcome change of pace.
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