The median household earned more money in 2016 than ever before, according to new Census Bureau data. The typical family earned $59,039, up 3.2% compared to 2015 and beating the previous all-time high of $58,149 from 1999. (Census Bureau officials, however, warned that the the 2016 number isn't directly comparable to estimates from before 2014, when its survey was modified to capture more sources of income.)

Expand chart

Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Why it's good news: 2016 was the second straight year for wage increases as a strong job market has raised wages for some and provided new jobs for the previously unemployed.

Why it's not so good news: Even if median income is at an all-time high, it's not very much higher than it was twenty years ago. As University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers writes this morning on Twitter, "The most amazing fact remains that Real Median Household income in 2016 is barely above that in 1999."

Point is, for the American middle class, it hasn't just been a lost decade. It's pretty much a lost two decades. An urgent economic crisis. — Justin Wolfers (@JustinWolfers) September 12, 2017

Is it really a crisis? Not every economist would characterize the situation in such dire terms. The American Enterprise Institute's Mark Perry has pointed out that because household sizes have been declining over the years, median income per person has been rising at a faster rate than median household income. Another factor holding down income growth is the retirement of baby boomers — causing a wave of high earners to leave the labor market only to be replaced by younger folks not making as much.

Go deeper

Updated 6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 18,996,008 — Total deaths: 712,476— Total recoveries — 11,478,835Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 p.m. ET: 4,877,115 — Total deaths: 159,990 — Total recoveries: 1,598,624 — Total tests: 59,652,675Map.
  3. Politics: Pelosi rips GOP over stimulus negotiations: "Perhaps you mistook them for somebody who gives a damn" — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine tests positive.
  4. Public health: Majority of Americans say states reopened too quicklyFauci says task force will examine aerosolized spread Study finds COVID-19 antibodies prevalent in NYC health care workers.
  5. Business: The health care sector imploded in Q2More farmers are declaring bankruptcyJuly's jobs report could be an inflection point for the recovery.
  6. Sports: Where college football's biggest conferences stand on playing.

Trump issues order banning TikTok if not sold within 45 days

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Americans and U.S. companies will be banned from making transactions with ByteDance, the Chinese owner of TikTok, in 45 days, according to a new executive order President Trump issued Thursday evening.

The big picture: Last week Trump announced his intention to ban TikTok but said he'd leave a 45-day period for Microsoft or other U.S.-based suitors to try to close a deal to acquire the popular video-sharing app.

Bill Hagerty wins Republican Senate nomination in Tennessee primary

Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty speaking at CPAC in 2019. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty won the Tennessee Republican Senate primary on Thursday evening, beating out surgeon Manny Sethi for GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander's seat, who announced his retirement in late 2018, AP reports.

Why it matters: Though the race narrowed in July, Hagerty — who received President Trump's endorsement in 2019 — stuck close to the president's messaging and touted his Tennessee roots.