The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion American families got a huge raise in 2015 — the biggest in nearly 50 years

I have been predicting for a while that Americans would finally get a raise sometime soon, after years and years of income stagnation. My forecast was based on reports from employers about their inability to find qualified workers, job vacancies taking longer to fill, and other metrics that seemed likely to lead to bidding up workers’ wages. The wage numbers didn’t always align with my predictions, though.

Lo and behold, today’s Census Bureau release shows that American households did get a big bump in income last year. In fact, it was the biggest measured year-over-year increase since the Census Bureau began tracking this measure in 1968.

Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015, up from $53,700 in 2014, an increase of 5.2 percent. I should clarify that this was the largest measured year-over-year percentage difference, although the increase is not statistically different from increases seen in a handful of earlier years (such as 1997-1998, when it rose a measured 3.7 percent).

Follow Catherine Rampell's opinionsFollow

For all that “economic anxiety” fueling this election season, things do seem to be looking up for at least the typical American household.

Households across the board saw income increases, with households held by those ages 35 to 44 getting the biggest boost.