The country’s poverty rate fell for the fourth consecutive year in 2018 to 11.8%, the lowest since 2001 and representing 38.1 million citizens; but the number of people without health coverage has grown, according to official Census data.
In 2017, the poverty rate stood at 12.3%.
The number of people living below the poverty line, which last year stood at $25,750 for a family of four, fell by 1.4 million.
When disaggregated by race, the poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was 8.1% in 2018, down from 8.5% in 2017.
For blacks, it was 20.8 percent; 17.6 percent for Hispanics; and 10.1 percent for Asians, all three unchanged from last year.
The progressive decline in poverty levels shows that society, thanks to sustained job creation, is gradually recovering from the devastating effects of the financial crisis of 2008-2010.
The average household income in 2018 was $63,179, and was not statistically different from the average in 2017, after three consecutive years of annual increases.
Asian households were the only ones to see their incomes increase by 4.6% from 2017 to $87,194.
On the other hand, incomes of non-Hispanic white ($70,642), black ($41,361) and Hispanic ($51,450) households were not statistically different from those recorded last year.
The tax reform launched by President Donald Trump and approved by Congress at the end of 2017, reduced taxes for the vast majority of citizens, although experts point out that it favored mostly the highest incomes.
The unemployment rate closed August at 3.7%, at levels not seen for half a century, and the growth rate has remained above 2% annually in recent years.
Despite the economic improvement, one of the warnings of the Census is the rise in the rate of people without medical coverage from 7.9% in 2017 to 8.5%, which means 1.9 million more people without health insurance.
According to new data, last year there were 27.5 million people without health coverage.
The figure represents a change in trend, as it had declined steadily from about 16% in 2010 to 8% last year, as a result of the approval of the health reform promoted by former President Barack Obama (2009-2017).
“In a period of continued economic growth, continued job creation, of course we would not expect to go backwards in terms of health coverage,” said Sharon Parrott, vice president of the Center for Progressive Studies Budget and Policies Priorities.
Health care will be one of the key issues ahead of next year’s presidential election, according to polls, and several Democratic hopefuls, including Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have proposed far-reaching reforms of the system to ensure universal public health care in the country.