After years of stagnant wages, U.S households saw significant economic gains in 2015. In itsannual report on income and poverty released this week, the U.S. Census Bureau found that median U.S. household’s income rose 5.2 percent in 2015 to an inflation-adjusted level of $56,516. While the median income is still below the median income of $57,423 of 2007, the one-year gain was the highest in nearly 50 years.
The Census report showed that the poorest Americans were the greatest beneficiaries of the wage increase. This was due to about half the states raising the minimum wage and numerous large corporations, like Wal-Mart, announcing pay increases. The report also noted that the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent from the 6.2 percent of the previous year and that 2.4 million Americans found full-time year-round work. The one weak spot was that, though urban workers saw a rise in income, people in rural areas did not.
Because of the rise in income, the report also indicated that the proportion of Americans living in poverty also fell sharply in 2015 to 13.5 percent from nearly 14.8 percent. That is the biggest decline in poverty since 1968.