US sees stronger median household income, less poverty

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WASHINGTON, Sept 13 (Reuters) - The median U.S. household income rose last year, its first significant annual increase since 2007, and helped push down the number of people living in poverty to 53.1 million, federal government data released on Tuesday showed.

About 29 million people did not have health insurance in 2015, down from 33 million in the previous year, the Census Bureau said in its annual Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage and Supplemental Poverty Measure report.

2016 issues: Health, Obamacare, Medicare, abortion

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2016 issues: Health, Obamacare opinions, Medicare, Abortion
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2016 issues: Health, Obamacare opinions, Medicare, Abortion
Opponents and supporters of Planned Parenthood demonstrate Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. Anti-abortion activists are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Anti-abortion activists demonstrate near a Planned Parenthood clinic Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Philadelphia. The protestors are calling for an end to government funding for the nonprofit reproductive services organization. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Kathy Calver listens to a speaker as she and other anti-abortion activists rally on the steps of the Texas Capitol to condemn the use in medical research of tissue samples from aborted fetuses, Tuesday, July 28, 2015, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Razor grass and pro-choice signs limit the view of patients entering the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, June 30, 2015. Mississippi's only abortion clinic will likely remain open at least until the fall, because the U.S. Supreme Court is taking no action until then on a dispute over a state law that could close it. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Assembly of some 150 anti-abortion protesters behind barricade in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES - 2015/08/22: Protester with Baby Doe sign in front of Planned Parenthood. A coalition of anti-abortion protesters protested on Mott Street in Manhattan in front of Planned Parenthood. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate Dr. Ben Carson speaks at a anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Republican presidential candidate, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) speaks during a Anti-abortion rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Planned Parenthood faces mounting criticism amid the release of videos by a pro-life group and demands to vote in the Senate to stop funding. (Photo by Olivier Douliery/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JANUARY 22: Pro-choice protesters chant in front of the Supreme Court on Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, the anniversary of the Roe v Wade abortion decision. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
Republican presidential candidate, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, presents his plan to replace Obamacare, during a visit to Cass Screw Machine Products, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2015, in Brooklyn Center, Minn. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
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Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., second from right, accompanied by Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., left, Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, second from left, and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., right, speaks at a press conference on the positive affects of the Affordable Care Act as the Senate convenes for a Sunday session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sunday, July 26, 2015. On the Senate's agenda is an effort to repeal President Barack Obama's health care law. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
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Jessica Ellis, right, holds a sign that says "yay 4 ACA," as she and other supporters of the Affordable Care Act react with cheers as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday June 25, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Trent Seubert, left, holds a sign stating that 165,000 people would lose healthcare coverage, as the words "lose healthcare" are covered over with a "still covered" sticker outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Thursday, June 25, 2015, after the court decided that the without the Affordable Care Act (ACA) may provide nationwide tax subsidie. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR AIDS HEALTHCARE FOUNDATION - Over 50 AIDS awareness advocates gather to protest in front of the Employment Development Department spearheaded by AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) on Thursday, March 19, 2015, in Sacramento, Calif. The protest was over Cal/OSHA’s five-year delay in amending and tightening California workplace safety regulations regarding condom use in adult film production to better protect adult film workers. (Steve Yeater/AP Images for AIDS Healthcare Foundation)  
University of Maryland medical student Sarah Britz, center, and others, rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, March 4, 2015 in Washington, as the court was hearing arguments in King v. Burwell, a major test of President Barack Obama's health overhaul which, if successful, could halt health care premium subsidies in all the states where the federal government runs the insurance marketplaces. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
In this photo taken Feb. 24, 2015, Kimberly Davis holds the medications she now takes to slow the progression of her multiple sclerosis, at her home in Jackson, Miss. The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week over whether millions of people covered by the nation’s health care law can legally continue to get financial help to pay for their insurance. If the court says no, millions of consumers across more than 30 states could lose federal subsidies for their premiums. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 25 - Supporters of the Affordable Care Act celebrate as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington,Thursday June 25, 2015. The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the nationwide tax subsidies under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, in a ruling that preserves health insurance for millions of Americans. (Photo By Al Drago/CQ Roll Call)
RICHMOND, CA - MARCH 31: Posters about Obamacare are posted on a window during a healthcare enrollment fair at the Bay Area Rescue Mission on March 31, 2014 in Richmond, California. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) held the fair to help people sign up for free and low-cost health coverage through Medi-Cal or Covered California on the final day before the sign-up deadline. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The poverty rate fell to 13.5 percent from 14.8 percent in 2014, the report said.

Median income rose 5.2 percent to $56,500 from $53,700 in 2014, in large part due to increases in employment, Census officials told reporters on a conference call.

The poverty rate has continued to edge down in the wake of the 2007-2009 recession amid a tepid recovery. The latest drop is the largest annual percentage point decline since 1999, Censusofficials said.

Analysts, however, caution against using the poverty rate to assess the long-term trend because it does not account for non-cash benefits, including food stamps and refundable tax credits.

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, these non-cash benefits and tax credits provide far more assistance than they did when the official poverty rate was established in the 1960s, and have led to a substantial reduction in economic hardship.

Taking such programs into account, the Census Bureau put the 2015 so-called supplemental U.S. poverty rate at 14.3 percent, one percentage point lower than in 2014.

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