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posted on 02 October 2015

Median Household Income At Post Recession High in August 2015.

from Sentier Research

According to new data derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), median annual household income in August 2015 was $55,794, 1.1 percent (or $615) higher than the July 2015 median of $55,179. The median in August was at its highest level since the official end of the great recession in June 2009. The Sentier Household Income Index for August 2015 was 97.3 (January 2000 = 100).

This most recent increase in median annual household income continues the generally upward trend in income that has been evident since the low point in our household income series that occurred in August 2011. Median income in August 2015 ($55,794) was 5.0 percent higher than in August 2014 ($53,157), and 7.6 percent higher than in August 2011 ($51,835). The period since August 2011 has been marked by an uneven, but generally upward trend in the level of real median annual household income. Many of the month-to-month changes in median income during this period have not been statistically significant. However, the cumulative effect of the various month-to-month changes since August 2011 resulted in the income improvement noted above. (See Figure 1 - full report here)

[click on image to enlarge]

/images/z%20SentierResearch.png

According to Gordon Green of Sentier Research:

The 1.1 percent increase in median household income between July and August 2015 is one of the largest month-to-month increases in income during the post-recessionary period. We have now recaptured all of the income losses that have occurred since June 2009, when the Great Recession ended. However, median household income is still 1.5 percent lower than December 2007, when the Great Recession began and 2.7 percent below the level in January 2000.

Highlights

The August reading on the labor market from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a mixed picture compared to July:

  • The official unemployment rate in August 2015 was 5.1 percent, down from the July 2015 rate (5.3 percent).
  • On the other hand, the median duration of unemployment was 12.1 weeks in August 2015 compared to 11.3 weeks in July 2015.
  • The broader measure of employment hardship, which includes the unemployed, marginally attached workers (of which discouraged workers are a subset), and persons working part-time for economic reasons, was 10.3 percent in August 2015, not significantly different than July 2015 (10.4 percent).

Real median annual household income in August 2015 can be put into broader perspective by comparisons with previous levels of household income since the last recession began and dating back to the start of the last decade:

  • The August 2015 median income of $55,794 is not significantly different than the median of $55,634 in June 2009, the end of the recent recession and beginning of the "economic recovery."
  • However, the August 2015 median was still 1.5 percent lower than the median of $56,671 in December 2007, the beginning month of the recession that occurred more than seven years ago.
  • The August 2015 median was 2.7 percent lower than the median of $57,345 in January 2000, the beginning of this statistical series.

The Sentier Household Income Index (HII) shows the value of real median annual household income in any given month as a percent of the base value at the beginning of the last decade (January 2000 = 100.0 percent):

  • The Sentier HII for August 2015 stood at 97.3 compared to 98.8 in December 2007, when the "great recession" began, and 97.0 in June 2009, when the "economic recovery" subsequently began.
  • The Sentier HII in August 2011 was 90.4 compared to 97.3 in August 2015.

Notes:

Income amounts in this report are before-tax money income and have been adjusted for inflation; income amounts have been seasonally adjusted, unless otherwise noted.

Estimates of median annual household income and the Household Income Index (HII) provide the only measures of change in household income during 2013 and 2014. The U.S. Census Bureau issued its official estimates of income and poverty for calendar year 2012 in a report released on September 17, 2013.

The estimates in this report are based on the Current Population Survey (CPS), the monthly household survey that provides official estimates of the unemployment rate. The CPS samples approximately 50,000 households and 135,000 household members each month. As is the case with all surveys, the estimates are subject to sampling and nonsampling errors. All comparisons made in the report have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90-percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted.

Household income is defined as the sum of the incomes of all household members. Income refers to all sources of money income including earnings from work, Social Security, interest, dividends, cash welfare, retirement pensions, unemployment compensation, veterans' benefits, etc. Income excludes capital gains and losses, and lump-sum, one-time amounts. Household income is measured before the payment of federal and state income taxes and Social Security payroll taxes.


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