NEW DATA SHOWS SHIFTS IN INCOME, POVERTY, INSURANCE LEVELS
By Michael P. Norton
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, SEPT. 13, 2018.....Median household income in Massachusetts rose by less than 1 percent in 2017, according to new U.S. Census Bureau data, while the state's poverty rate was flat and there was an uptick in people without health insurance.
The new numbers pegged the median household income in 2017 at $77,385, up from $76,633 in 2016. In 2013, median household income in Massachusetts was $70,200. The overall percentage of households that earned $200,000 or more rose by nearly one percentage point from 2016 to 2017, from 11.3 to 12.2 percent.
The slight growth in median income "continues a pattern of stagnating wages and incomes among the middle class," said Jeremy Thompson, senior policy analyst at the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center (MassBudget).
The lowest wage workers in Massachusetts earned 6.7 percent more in 2017 than in 2016, Thompson said, the third highest increase in the U.S. over that period. The growth corresponded with the last increase in the state minimum wage.
Median household income in the United States increased 2.6 percent between 2016 and 2017. The 2017 U.S. median household income was $60,336.
The percentage of Massachusetts residents with no health insurance rose to 2.8 percent in 2017, up from 2.5 percent in 2016, according to the data. MassBudget senior policy analyst Nancy Wagman said the numbers reflect the state's "nation-leading commitment to ensuring all its residents are covered by health insurance," but show stalled progress. She cited a decline in coverage for children, with 1.5 percent uninsured in 2017 compared to 1 percent in 2016.
The bureau estimated the state's poverty rate at 10.5 percent in 2017, up from 10.4 percent in 2016. The U.S. poverty rate in 2017 was 13.4 percent.
The bureau's economic data also shows 70 percent of commuters used a car, truck or van, unchanged from 2016, while 10.4 percent used public transportation, up from 10.1 percent in 2016.
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