Middle class gets another raise

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WASHINGTON — Americans got another raise last year.

Median household income rose to just over $59,000 in 2016, up 3.2% from a year earlier, according to data released by the U.S. Census Bureau Tuesday. That marks the second year in a row of increases.

Also, the poverty rate ticked down to 12.7% in 2016 from 13.5% a year earlier. And, the share of those without health insurance dropped to 8.8%.

The figures cap a long, slow road to improvement in middle class fortunes under the Obama administration. Median income declined and the poverty rate rose during former President Obama’s first term as the nation struggled to recover from the Great Recession before starting to improve a bit in his second term.

But Americans finally got a big raise in 2015, with the median income soaring 5.2%. Poverty plummeted to 13.5%, from 14.8% a year earlier. And the uninsured rate also dropped. It was the first time all three measures have improved in nearly two decades.

The progress continued last year as the U.S. economy added a total of 2 million jobs. The year ended with a 4.7% unemployment rate, down from 5% at the close of 2015.