The Great Recession and ensuing recovery was dramatic and long. It changed the way Americans’ lives were, and where they’re spending their money.
A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau details how all those spending habits appear to be shaping the country. Since 2010, people have more money available to them than ever before.
Over the past four years, disposable personal income increased 6.2 percent to $4.3 trillion. And there’s more, according to census officials, because growth has been fueled by lower Social Security taxes and gas and transportation expenses.
The most significant change since the recession’s end is that income growth has now been accompanied by job growth. For the first time since the end of the Great Recession, there are now more jobs in America than there are in jail.
There’s also a mountain of money saved by Americans.
While employers added 2.9 million jobs since the end of the recession, the American Savings Rate, the amount of savings Americans in the least well-off class of Americans have, tripled since 2010 to 13.2 percent. The rates of household savings were significantly higher for the lower-middle class and upper-middle class.
These rates of savings might have been higher, except that the income gap between the different income categories kept widening in 2016.
In 2016, the top fifth of all households earned an average of 75.2 percent of the country’s median income, and the bottom fifth earned only 11.4 percent.
For the lowest fifth of families, the income gap increased from 16.4 percent to 17.5 percent.
During the recession, households in the bottom fifth had become a constant net saver. Since 2010, household saving rates have accelerated. For the upper-middle class, however, the reverse has happened. Instead of increasing, household saving rates decreased.