Some good news in household incomes: Income gains for middle-class households; Strength also seen in Spokane and the state.

We didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share yesterday’s economic good news with those who may have missed it. Neil Irwin writes about it in the New York Times:

The most decisive evidence of improving fortunes is found in new census data released Tuesday showing that median household income rose a whopping 5.2 percent in 2015, to around $56,500. According to that data, incomes rose for black families, white families, Hispanic families and Asian-American families. It rose for young people and in households headed by middle-aged adults and older people. In short, the improvement was across the board to a remarkable degree.

Those new census numbers don’t come as a complete shock. And there’s little reason to think they’re a statistical aberration. Rather, they are broadly consistent with a body of evidence that shows inflation-adjusted incomes for the mass of Americans have finally started to rise in a meaningful way.

It’s important to understand the context. He continues.

One dirty secret of economic analysis is that there is no perfect way to measure the financial well-being of 320 million Americans. Every measurement of income is flawed in its own way. So the best we can do is look at how people are doing from a range of measures, understand the differences among them and what they show.

He provides useful examples to help flesh out the implications of yesterday’s headline census number. We encourage you to read the whole thing.

The Associated Press also reports on the numbers.

Still, median incomes remain 1.6 below the $57,423 reached in 2007. The median is the point where half of households fall below and half are above.

There’s also good news in Spokane and Washington, say experts talking to the Spokesman-Review about the census figures.

While comparable figures aren’t available for states or cities yet, area economists said they won’t be surprised if a bump occurred in Washington and Spokane.

It could be higher, it could be lower, local economists said. We won’t have the local data for a few weeks.

Some of what they’re watching:

But some of the data that go into that calculation are known for Washington and Spokane County, so economists are fairly confident the average income levels will show improvement.

“What drives (income) is job creation,” said Doug Tweedy, a regional labor economist for the state Department of Employment Security. “We expect increases in 2015 and 2016.”

Wages, which are the biggest portion of income the federal government measures, rose an average of 3.3 percent in Spokane County in 2015 as the labor market improved. Wages in the health care industry, which overtook government as the county’s largest employer, went up an average of 7 percent…

“It’s the biggest jump we’ve seen in wages in several years,” said Patrick Jones, the executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.

Spokane city and county, as well as Washington state, also had a greater jump in average household income in 2014 than the country as a whole. 

The state has been outperforming the U.S. economy for several years. But better would be, well, better. It’s time.