Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic that struck earlier this year, U.S. median household income increased last year and the nation’s poverty rate fell 1.3 percentage points.
Median household income in the U.S. increased by nearly 7 percent last year to $68,700, up from $64,324 in 2018 while the number of people living in poverty fell, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday (Sept. 15).
The government’s report provided a glimpse into the nation’s economy before COVID-19 led to the loss of more than 20 million jobs.
From 2018 through 2019, median earnings of all workers increased by 1.4 percent, while median earnings of full-time, year-round workers increased by 0.8 percent.
During those two years, poverty rates declined for all races. For whites it decreased 1 percentage point to 9 percent while it fell by 2 percentage points for Blacks to 18.8 percent. Among Asians, the poverty rate dropped by 2.8 percentage points to 7.3 percent and the rate for Hispanics decreased by 1.8 percentage points to 15.7 percent, the U.S. Census Bureau report said.
The annual report revealed the country’s overall poverty rate decreased to 10.5 percent, down 1.3 percentage points in 2019. It said 34 million Americans were in poverty, a decline of 4.2 million.
Also last year, 9.2 percent of people, or 29.6 million, lacked health insurance at the time of interview, according to the survey, up from 8.9 percent and 28.6 million in 2018.
In July, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Americans have seen their household incomes become one of COVID-19’s many casualties, as the U.S. unemployment rate skyrocketed and millions of workers who still have jobs face cuts to their hours or pay rates.
“To get the employment-to-population ratio back to where it was at its peak in 2000, we need to create 30 million jobs,” Torsten Slok, Deutsche Bank’s chief economist, told CNBC.