September 12 at 11:10 AM

Derek Mathis, 23, of Hazelwood, Pa., works on a job site May 1 in Pittsburgh. (Jeff Swensen for The Washington Post)

America’s middle class had its highest-earning year ever in 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

Median household income in America was $59,039 last year, surpassing the previous record of $58,655 set in 1999, the Census Bureau said. The figure is adjusted for inflation and is one of the most closely watched indicators of how the middle class is faring financially, as the Census surveys nearly 100,000 homes.

The Census said the uptick in earnings occurred because so many people found full-time jobs — or better-paying jobs — last year.

America’s poverty rate fell to 12.7 percent, the lowest since 2007, the year before the financial crisis hit. The percent of Americans without health insurance for the entire year also dropped in 2016 to just 8.8 percent, the lowest ever, largely thanks to expanding coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

“Today’s Census report is unambiguously good news: On income, on poverty and on health insurance,” said Bob Greenstein, founder and president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank.

Economists hailed the news as evidence the recovery is finally taking hold after years of frustration for the middle class, which watched the stock market soar while the average American’s income barely budged. Donald Trump tapped into this anger in the 2016 campaign, often saying people were no better off economically than they were in 2000.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2017/09/12/middle-class-income-hit-highest-level-on-record-in-2016-census-bureau-reports/?deferJs=true&outputType=default-article&utm_term=.e2317d2a1f1c