by Dylan Widger
Middle-class and lower-class Americans enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades this past year, according to a recent Census Bureau report.
Jason Furnam, the Chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, discussed the numbers with the media during a recent press call that included the Antelope County News.
These findings show an increase of household income and a decrease in the poverty rate in the US, which broke a multi-year low for American workers and industry that stemmed from damage caused by the Great Recession in 2008.
When discussing the data, Jason Furnam said, “I’ve been reading this report regularly for the past 21 years, and this year’s report was far and away the best I have ever read in terms of economic improvements documented for the American people.”
According to data released by the Census Bureau, median household income nationwide went up $2,800, or 5.2 percent in 2015, the fastest growth on record since the start of the data in 1968.
Household income grew across the board, with the greatest and fastest growth seen among lower and middle-class households. 3.5 million people rose above the poverty threshold which was the fastest increase since 1968.
That number included people from all ethnicities, the most improvement coming from African American and Hispanic American households.
Also, every state has seen declines in the number of uninsured Americans since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2013.
Now, how does Nebraska compare to the national average in 2015?
In Nebraska, the number of uninsured Nebraskans fell due to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. From 2013 to 2015, the Nebraska uninsured rate fell from 11.3 percent to 8.2 percent. The median household income has risen by 4.3 percent, or $2,244.
The greatest gain in Nebraska’s median household income were seen in the metro areas of Omaha and Lincoln, with 5.9 percent and 3.6 percent respectively.
This helped to further fix the damage to Nebraska’s economy caused by the Great Recession. However, much of the improvement came from widespread job creation across Nebraska, especially rural areas.
Since 2010, Nebraska’s state economy has added 75,600 jobs. To put that into perspective, the number of jobs created is almost equal to the total population of Grand Island and Kearney combined.
Nebraska’s unemployment rate has fallen as a result, dropping from the peak of 4.8 percent during the Great Recession in 2008 to 3.2 percent in August 2016.
When reflecting on the data, Furnam stated: “This progress is really important. It is what is going to come as the economy starts growing, employers get the confidence to open more jobs, and the market gets tight enough that people start to get raises. “
He added, “This it was we like to see in our economy, but there is a lot more progress we need to make to supplement our growth.”