Economic Indicators | Inequality and Poverty

News from EPI Well-worn patterns of inequality reemerge in Census data for 2017

This morning, the Census Bureau released its report on income, poverty, and health insurance for 2017.

“Today’s data show a marked slowdown in the pace of improvement relative to the previous two years. While any reduction in poverty or increase in income is a step in right direction, most families have just barely made up the ground lost over the past decade,” said EPI Senior Economist Elise Gould. “In 2015 and 2016, income growth was stronger and broad-based, with growth for low- and middle-income households tracking overall growth. In 2017, however, well-worn patterns of inequality reemerged, with stronger growth at the top than for typical households.”

Median household incomes rose 1.8 percent in 2017, compared with 0.5 percent growth at the 20th percentile,  2.6 percent at the 80th percentile and 3.0 percent at the 95th percentile. The poverty rate, meanwhile, dropped 0.4 percentage points, to 12.3 percent.

“The retreat from broad-based income growth likely contributed to stalled progress in closing the nation’s still-large and persistent racial income gaps,” said EPI Economist and Director of the Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy Valerie Wilson. “In 2015 and 2016, income growth was stronger for black and Hispanic households than for white households, but that trend has not continued. Today’s release shows that while in 2017, growth in Hispanic median household income continued to outpace that of white non-Hispanics, resulting in a slight narrowing of the Hispanic-white income gap, income growth stalled for median black households, reversing recent progress in closing the black-white income gap.”

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