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US household income hit new high in 2017, poverty rate almost static

© GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File | People wait for lunch at a soup kitchen in Clarksburg, West Virginia; Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said the US administration should be "ashamed" of its poverty alleviation efforts


US median household income rose 1.8 percent in 2017 to $61,372, according to census data released Wednesday, though the poverty rate fell only marginally.

The report followed earlier positive data on employment and consumer confidence that point to an improving American economy near the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Financial Crisis.

At the same time, the biggest year-over-year jumps came at the highest income levels, the data show.

The official poverty rate decreased 0.4 percent from the prior year to 12.3 percent, representing 39.7 million people -- though officials cautioned this was not statistically different from the 2016 level.

Philip Alston, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights said in a statement: "The current US administration should be ashamed of the latest Census Bureau statistics on poverty which show almost no improvement from last year.

"At a time of record employment, record stock market valuations, and huge increases in wealth for the top earners, there are still... 28.5 million people without health insurance in the United States.

"If this is the best one of the world?s richest countries can do at a time of great prosperity, it is a disgrace."

"These numbers are haunting us" added Reverend William Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign. "We declare that the war on poverty is far from over."

The biggest year-over-year gains in household income came at the highest levels, with the 95th percentile income at $237,034, up 3.0 percent from 2016.

By contrast, income rose just 1.1 percent at the 40th percentile to $47,110 and 2.2 percent in the 10th percentile of $14,219, according to Census data.

© 2018 AFP