There is excellent economic news today. The incomes of American households hit a record high in 2019, driving poverty rates down to their lowest recorded levels across the board.

Not only did all incomes rise sharply, but minority groups experienced the biggest income gains. Income inequality also fell for another year in a row.

More people working, especially women, was the driver for income gains and a reminder that pro-growth policies including deregulation and tax cuts spur economic growth and employment. 

These new economic figures just released by the Census Bureau spark hope that we can once again return to one of the most prosperous periods of our history, just before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Here are 12 key statistics about poverty in America: 

  1. Real median household income reached an all-time record high of $68,700 in 2019.
  2. The 6.8 percent increase in household income is the largest one-year increase in median income on record.
  3. The poverty rate fell 1.3 percentage points to 10.5%. 
  4. The poverty rate hit its lowest level on record, declining for its fifth consecutive year.
  5. Real median incomes grew for black Americans (+7.9%), Hispanic Americans (+7.1%), and Asian Americans (+10.6%).
  6. Income levels for minorities reached record highs.
  7. There were 2.2 million more people working at some point in 2019 compared with 2018 and 1.2 million more people working full-time year-round. 
  8. Women drove the increase in full-time year-round workers.
  9. Over 4 million people were lifted out of poverty between 2018 and 2019.
  10. Child poverty fell to a near 50-year low
  11. The poverty rate fell to an all-time record low for every race and ethnic group.
  12. The declines in the poverty rates for minority groups were greater than the decline in the overall poverty rate: Black (-2.0 percentage points), Hispanic (-1.8 percentage points), and Asian (-2.8 percentage points) 

Now, while we can celebrate these tremendous gains, these figures represent 2019. 

COVID-19 has tremendously impacted the incomes of households across the country as millions of workers remain unemployed and countless small businesses have shuttered. The unemployment rate skyrocketed from a near-historic low of under 4 percent in February to 15 percent in April 2020.

Thankfully, the unemployment rate has since fallen to below 9 percent and is likely to continue its downward trajectory.

We can only hope that relaxing mandated closures and restrictions on schools, businesses, and workplaces (with safety measures and standards) will improve the employment outlook for Americans by year’s end.