WASHINGTON — In 2015, real household median income in Minnesota grew by a smaller amount in Minnesota than in the U.S., new census data show. Income grew $1,930 — 3.1 percent — per household in the state while the national figure was $2,800 — 5.2 percent — per household.
The Twin Cities and Duluth metro areas saw the fastest gains, according to information shared by the White House Wednesday.
Obama administration officials also highlighted census information on the state’s falling unemployment rate which has dipped from a peak of 8.1 percent during the Great Recession to 4 percent in August 2016.
In other metrics, the census data showed that the percentage of Minnesotans living in poverty shrank by 1.3 percent in 2015, while the rate nationally declined 1.2 percent. The percentage of without health insurance in Minnesota declined from 8.2 percent in 2013 to 4.5 percent as a result of the Affordable Care Act. Nationally, the uninsured ranks fell from 14.5 percent to 9.4 percent during the same period.
Collectively, the White House sees the numbers as continued proof of an economic recovery from the Great Recession.
Jason Furman, chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers said the administration would “like to see more income growth.” He added that women are still paid less than men for the same work, but that the gap has shrunk from 70 cents on the dollar to 80 cents on the dollar. Furman was also pleased that the fastest income growth occurred among lower- and middle-class households.
The new census numbers are “far and away the best report I’ve seen,” Furman told reporters at a meeting in the Executive Office Building.
The census data does not match the gloomy picture of the U.S. economy painted by Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Barely two hours after Furman distributed the state-by-state data, one of Trump’s top economic advisers, Stephen Moore, spoke at a forum on presidential economics where he dismissed the new census information as bad news. Moore said middle class Americans make less than they did in 2007. He said the unemployment rate is artificially low because it does not include those who have given up searching for jobs. He said the reason Trump will win the presidency is because “millions of people think this is no real recovery.”
Moore’s dark take contrasted sharply with the fact that the country’s 2015’s household income growth was the fastest on record and that the one-year drop in the poverty rate was the steepest since 1968.
Furman declined to talk about the presidential campaign. Instead, he said the regular progression in economic recoveries starts with growth, which the country began to experience in 2009. That was followed by job gains, which began in 2010, and moved on to a greater demand for workers, which led to higher pay in 2015.
Furman said that “every measure of [consumer] confidence has gotten better in the last six years.” But he noted that there is sometimes a disconnect between how people feel about their own situation and the broader economy.