After struggling to make ends meet since the Great Recession, American households are finally getting a raise.
For the first time since 2007, the median U.S. household saw a healthy bump in income last year — up 5.2 percent to $56,500 from $53,700 in 2014, according to a Census report released Tuesday. Much of that gain came from the drop in the unemployment rate that created more paychecks for American workers.
Those gains helped cut the number of people living in poverty to 53.1 million, extending a decline that has continued since 2009 despite a slow economic recovery. The latest drop is the largest annual percentage point decline since 1999, Census officials said.
Most researchers caution, though, that the official rate doesn't paint a true picture of poverty trends because it doesn't account for non-cash benefits, including food stamps and refundable tax credits.
But the Census data on incomes confirm what other fresher monthly numbers are showing. Millions of workers are getting raises, some bigger than others.
If you're not one of them, there may be an explanation for why you're getting left behind.
In the years just after the financial collapseof 2008 and the mass layoffs of the Great Recession, most people felt lucky to have an income — even if it wasn't growing. Employers quickly recognized that their workers were more concerned about job security than holding on to any hopes for fatter paychecks. So wage growth shrank.