The nation’s poverty rate dropped further last year, but household income stalled, and the share of people without health insurance went up for the first time since the Affordable Care Act took effect in 2013, according to federal government data released Tuesday.
The Census Bureau found that the percent of U.S. residents who went without medical insurance last year rose to 8.5% from a revised 8% in 2017.
It was the first such increase since the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, led to sharp declines in the uninsured rate, which was previously reported as 14.5% before the full effect of the act in 2014.
Analysts were expecting an erosion of the gains from Obamacare in 2018, thanks in part to the Trump administration’s moves to weaken it.
Advertisement The administration cut outreach programs and supported new state policies making it harder to enroll in Medicaid, the government’s healthcare program for lower-income families and individuals, according to experts at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a nonpartisan think tank.
The census report showed the nation’s median income — the midpoint at which half of households make more and half make less — was $63,179 last year, up less than 1% from 2017, even though more people had jobs and workers’ real earnings rose 3.4% last year.
Median income jumped more than 5% in 2015 but since then has been moderate or essentially flat.
The poverty rate, meanwhile, dropped 0.5 percentage point last year to 11.8%. It was the fourth consecutive year of decline and the first time that the poverty level was significantly lower than 2007.
Advertisement The number of people in poverty in 2018 was 38.1 million, 1.4 million fewer people than 2017.
The number of people falling below the poverty threshold — less than $25,465 for a family of two adults and two children — was almost certainly helped by the growing number of jobs and higher minimum wages in different parts of the country.
Economic growth, however, has moderated this year. Through August, employers on average added 158,000 new jobs a month, a still-healthy level that is more than enough to absorb the growing labor force population, but down from 223,000 jobs a month last year.
LINK ORIGINAL: Latimes