Median U.S. Household Income Up for 2nd Straight Year

Mr. Trump campaigned on a pledge to lift the nation’s fortunes and to repair what he described in his inaugural address as “this American carnage.” He has called for cuts to federal taxes and spending, broad reductions in regulation and limits on foreign trade.

The focus for now is on tax cuts. “Our painful tax system has become a massive barrier to America’s economic comeback,” Mr. Trump said last week in North Dakota. He dined Tuesday night with senators from both parties, seeking to build bipartisan support.

But some Democrats said the Census Bureau’s new figures reinforced their determination to resist.

“We need to be building on the success of the past eight years, not abandoning the progress we have made as a country and the American people who worked so hard to get us there,” said Representative John Yarmuth, a Kentucky Democrat who is the ranking member of the House Budget Committee.

The Federal Reserve is also closely watching the health of the economy as it debates how soon to resume hiking its benchmark interest rate.

Household incomes are outpacing wage growth because millions of Americans have returned to the work force, a vivid illustration of the old maxim that a job is the best antipoverty program. The economy added roughly 2.2 million jobs last year and an additional 1.4 million in the first eight months of this year.

The Census Bureau report is the second in a row to find strong income growth. A year ago, the bureau reported that the median income in 2015 had risen by 5.2 percent, the largest jump since record keeping began in 1967. The 2016 gains described on Tuesday pushed the median to the highest level on record, topping the previous peak in 1999.

But Census Bureau officials cautioned that those figures were not directly comparable because of a change in its methodology in 2013 that has tended to increase measured incomes.

The Economic Policy Institute, a liberal research organization based in Washington, estimated that without the change in methodology, median household income in 2016 was still 2.4 percent lower than in 1999 — and 1.6 percent below the level reached in 2007, before the recession began.

The Census Bureau report also pointed out continuing challenges, including income inequality. The average household income for the poorest fifth of households fell by $571 over the decade that ended last year, adjusting for inflation. Over the same period, the average…

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