Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015

Source: Bernadette D. Proctor, Jessica L. Semega, Melissa A. Kollar, U.S. Census Bureau, Report Number: P60-256, September 13, 2016

From the summary:
This report presents data on income, earnings, income inequality, and poverty in the United States based on information collected in the 2016 and earlier Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplements (CPS ASEC) conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Highlights
Income:
• Median household income in the United States was $56,516 in 2015, an increase in real terms of 5.2 percent from the 2014 median of $53,718. This is the first annual increase in median household income since 2007, the year before the most recent recession.
• In 2015, real median household income was 1.6 percent lower than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession, and 2.4 percent lower than the median household income peak that occurred in 1999. (The difference between the 2007 to 2015 and 1999 to 2015 percentage changes was not statistically significant.)
• The real median income of non-Hispanic White, Black, and Hispanic-origin households increased 4.4 percent, 4.1 percent, and 6.1 percent, respectively, between 2014 and 2015. This is the first annual increase in median household income for non-Hispanic White and Black households since 2007. For Asian households, the 2014 to 2015 percentage change in real median income was not statistically significant. (The differences between the 2014 to 2015 percentage changes in median income for non-Hispanic white, Black, and Hispanic households were not statistically different.)
• The real median income of households maintained by a foreign-born person increased by 5.3 percent while the median income of households maintained by a native-born person increased 4.4 percent between 2014 and 2015. (The difference between the 2014 to 2015 percentage changes in median income for households maintained by a foreign-born person and a native-born person was not statistically significant.)
• Real median household income increased for all regions (Northeast, Midwest, South, and West) between 2014 and 2015.

Earnings:
• The real median earnings of men and women who worked full time, year round between 2014 and 2015 increased by 1.5 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. This is the first significant annual increase in median earnings for men or women since 2009. (The difference between the 2014 to 2015 percentage changes in median earnings for men and women who worked full time, year round was not statistically significant.)
• The number of men and women working full time, year round with earnings increased by 1.4 million and 1 million, respectively, between 2014 and 2015. (The difference between the 2014 to 2015 increases in the number of men and women full-time, year-round workers was not statistically significant.)
• The 2015 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.80, not statistically different from the 2014 ratio.
Income Inequality:
• The money income Gini index was 0.479 in 2015, not statistically different from 2014. (Developed more than a century ago, the Gini index is the most common measure of household income inequality used by economists, with 0 representing total income equality and 1 equivalent to total inequality.)
• Since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality, the money income Gini index has increased by 5.5 percent.
• Changes in money income inequality between 2014 and 2015 were not statistically significant as measured by the shares of aggregate household income by quintiles, the Theil index, the mean logarithmic deviation of income (MLD), or the Atkinson measure.

Poverty:
• The official poverty rate in 2015 was 13.5 percent, down 1.2 percentage points from 14.8 percent in 2014.
• In 2015, there were 43.1 million people in poverty, 3.5 million less than in 2014.
• The 2015 poverty rate was 1.0 percentage point higher than in 2007, the year before the most recent recession.
• For most demographic groups, 2015 poverty rates and estimates of the number of people in poverty decreased from 2014.
• Between 2014 and 2015, poverty rates decreased for all three major age groups. The poverty rate for children under age 18 dropped 1.4 percentage points, from 21.1 percent to 19.7 percent. Rates for people aged 18 to 64 dropped 1.1 percentage points, from 13.5 percent to 12.4 percent. Poverty rates for people aged 65 and older decreased 1.1 percentage points, from 10.0 percent to 8.8 percent.