Share of Americans With Health Insurance Declined in 2018

on Sep10
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Some slowdown in income growth is to be expected. Much of the growth earlier in the recovery was driven by people returning to work. Now, with the unemployment rate near a five-decade low, most Americans are working, meaning income gains primarily reflect higher wages for people who were already employed, said Ernie Tedeschi, an economist at Evercore ISI. Among full-time, year-round workers, earnings rose more than 3 percent for both men and women.

In a reversal of the pattern that held in recent years, incomes grew more for poorer households last year. Income inequality, as measured by the Gini index and adjusted for household size, fell slightly last year.

There has been a “theme of the recovery finally seeping down to the most marginal workers and families in America,” and “you see that in 2018,” Mr. Tedeschi said.

The census report measures income before taxes, so the income changes don’t directly reflect the impact of the tax law that Mr. Trump signed in December 2017.

There were 38 million people living in poverty in the United States in 2018, 11.8 percent of the population. The poverty rate has fallen relatively steadily since 2010, when it topped 15 percent. Among children, the poverty rate was 16.2 percent, also down from 2017.

Those figures are based on the government’s official measure of poverty, which counts the number of people living in households that earn below a certain threshold — about $20,000 for a family of three in 2018. Economists have long criticized the official measure for failing to account for regional differences in cost of living and for government benefits such as food stamps, housing assistance and the earned-income tax credit, among other shortcomings.

Under an alternative measure, which attempts to account for such issues, the poverty rate is a bit higher, at 13.1 percent in 2018, little changed from 2017. More seniors and fewer children are poor under that methodology.

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