The latest jobs report out from the Census Bureau is exactly the kind of news that Democrats want to hear. According to this report issued on Tuesday, middle-class and poor Americans had the best year of economic improvement in decades in 2015.
While the soaring numbers have not accounted for all of the damage from the Great Recession, if these trends keep coming, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic.
Real median income jumped from $53,700 to $56,500 between 2014 and 2015 alone. That’s a 5.2% increase, and it’s the largest percent increase of its kind we’ve seen since the 1960s.
There’s more good news throughout this report: the poverty rate also fell by 1.2%, which is the biggest percentage decline since 1968. In real numbers, that’s 3.5 million fewer Americans in poverty between 2014 and 2015.
Furthermore, the number of uninsured American has also dropped by 1.3%, leaving only 9.1% uninsured.
When you start to dive deeper into these numbers, a very clear picture begins to emerge: these stark increases in the economic well-being of Americans is due to democratic policies.
For example, let’s take the rising median household income and lower levels of poverty. These numbers are due to a number of factors, starting with an improving job market (thanks, Obama). Furthermore, workers are likely benefitting from a number of state and local initiatives to boost the minimum wage.
And how about the increase in Americans covered by health insurance? We can thank Obamacare and the states who have decided to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act for that one. Sadly, in those Republican-led states which refused to expand Medicaid, the picture is more grim.
Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors called this report the “strongest ever from the Census Bureau”, saying:
“This exceeds the strong expectation that I already had. The news here is the growth rates. I’ve read the last 21 reports, including this one. I have never seen one like this, in terms of, everything you look at is what you’d want to see or better.”
This news comes at an excellent time for Democrats, possibly bringing a new narrative to the election season. While President Obama and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton heralded the report, Republican candidate Donald Trump hasn’t said a word.
That might have something to do with the fact that he often cites stagnant median household income as evidence that the American economy is in deep declines.
The report shows that, while significant gaps still exist between white and non-white workers as well as men and women, incomes have increased across all of these lines. Furthermore, the income gap between men and women is also declining.
However, in rural areas and in the South, which are much more likely to be Republican controlled, income growth has been significantly weaker.
Yet Republicans aren’t talking about this – they’re just dismissing the report altogether. Trump’s economic advisor Stephen Moore called the report a “blip”, saying in a statement:
“It’s a very good thing that we finally have some income growth for middle-class families, but the most depressing thing about where we stand in America – and I think this is why the Trump phenomenon has taken hold – is that the average American is still poorer today than it was 15 years ago.”
It doesn’t take long to dissect this statement. The economy was improving for some during the Clinton years and is now improving under Obama, but who was President 15 years ago?
There’s nothing conclusive in that observation, but it’s certainly worth remembering.