Summary of the Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Data for 2015

Summary of the Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Data for 2015

Real household income went up by 5.2% from 2014 to 2015 -- the fastest growth on record. Poverty fell by 3.5 million – the largest one year drop since 1968. The uninsured rate fell to 9.1% -- its lowest rate ever. and

The rise in household incomes was spread across all ethnic groups and all income levels. The fastest income growth was for the poor and low income, for Hispanics and for naturalized citizens. Middle class income gains exceeded those of the very wealthy. Income inequality decreased.

The poverty rates decreased for children, for seniors and for adults ages 18-64. Only during the Kennedy and Johnson years were there greater declines in poverty rates. A separate measure of poverty is referred to as the Supplemental Poverty Measure; it tracks the impacts of programs like Earned Income Tax Credits (EITC), Food Stamps and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). EITC was the most important program in lifting children and working age adults out of poverty, followed by Food Stamps. Social Security and SSI lifted many seniors out of poverty with the result that seniors have the lowest poverty rates (8.8%) of any age group. Children by contrast still have the highest poverty rate of 19.9%.

The nation’s uninsured rates continued to decline, with the Medicaid expansion states declining the most. In the Medicaid expansion states (such as California) the uninsured rates for adults 18-64 fell from 16.8% in the second quarter of 2013 to 7.3% in the first quarter of 2016. In the non-expansion states like Texas and Florida uninsured rates fell from 20.8% to 14.1% due to the premium assistance programs in the Exchanges. The most important opportunity to further reduce the nation’s uninsured is for the 20 non-expansion states to adopt the Medicaid expansion.

The progress in jobs and employment under the Obama Administration from the depths of the Great Recession have been phenomenal, yet as nation, we have still not recovered household incomes to the level of 1999 under President Bill Clinton – median incomes are still 2.4% below their high point in 1999 -- due to the enormous loss of jobs, wealth and incomes from crash of the Great Recession of 2008. The continuing trouble spots are in rural America where household incomes declined and in the South where incomes grew less robustly than the other regions, where poverty rates are the highest, and too many state governments had rejected the Medicaid expansion leading to higher uninsured rates.

Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin

Dated: September 13, 2016

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