Good news, worker bees: for the first time in decades, middle-class incomes saw a steep jump in 2015. The average American income increased by 5.2 percent last year, indicating the fastest pay increase ever recorded and the first significant boost since the end of the Great Recession. According to the Washington Post:
"Real median household income was $56,500 in 2015, the bureau reported, up from $53,700 in 2014. The gain was a combination of rising wages in the economy — spurred by a labor market where unemployment is falling and employers are being forced to compete more for workers — and low inflation."
This is a welcome reprieve from gloomy reports in recent years of a struggling — or even "vanishing" — middle class. In yet more promising news, the poverty rate fell by 1.2 percentage points (the steepest fall since 1968!) and the number of Americans without health insurance has continued its decline.
Could this shimmer of positivity find its way to your paycheck? It just might, and if you find yourself getting a raise soon, we've got tips on what to do with that extra cash.