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Everything​ ​is​ ​Awesome? Published​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Tufts​ ​Daily​ ​on​ ​September​ ​22,​ ​2016: https://tuftsdaily.com/opinion/2016/09/22/op-ed-everything-awesome/ The​ ​United​ ​States​ ​had​ ​a​ ​very​ ​good​ ​2015.​ ​This​ ​was​ ​the​ ​message​ ​that​ ​emerged​ ​last​ ​week,​ ​when​ ​the​ ​Census Bureau​ ​released​ ​its​ ​annual​ ​report​​ ​on​ ​income,​ ​poverty,​ ​and​ ​health​ ​coverage.​ ​Analyzing​ ​2015,​ ​the​ ​report found​ ​that​
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  Everything is Awesome? Published in the Tufts Daily on September 22, 2016: https://tuftsdaily.com/opinion/2016/09/22/op-ed-everything-awesome/ The United States had a very good 2015. This was the message that emerged last week, when the Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty, and health coverage. Analyzing 2015, the report found that the American economy witnessed one of its best years on record. Most notably, median household income rose 5.2 percent last year–the largest single-year increase since the Census Bureau  began collecting this data in 1967–up to $56,500. But the good news was plentiful. The unemployment rate fell by a staggering 5 percent, spurred by the addition of three million jobs. The number of Americans living in poverty fell by 3.5 million. This 8 percent drop from last year is the largest single-year  percentage decline since 1999. And 91 percent of Americans had health insurance last year, an increase in coverage fueled by the Affordable Care Act and state expansion of Medicaid. Essentially, after years of stagnation, Americans finally got a raise, with health insurance tossed in. The economy has been gradually recovering since the Great Recession, but the vast majority of the economic gains have gone to the very wealthy. This year’s Census Report reversed that trend, with low-income households seeing the largest increase in income. Household incomes for those in the 10th percentile–the  poorest 10 percent of American households– rose 7.9 percent, while those in the 20th percentile saw a  boost of 6.3 percent. These are staggering increases for a single calendar year. In comparison, the 90th  percentile–the richest 10 percent of households–saw an income boost of 2.9 percent. For once, the poor captured a greater percentage of gains than the rich. In the immortal words of Joe Biden, this is a “big fucking deal.” This report puts a huge dent in the narrative promoted by Donald Trump and the Republicans that the American economy has stagnated under the leadership of President Obama. It is golden ticket handed to Hillary Clinton, proof that Democratic economic principles are working. Of course, the GOP doesn’t see it this way. “Today’s report is another disappointing confirmation that too many Americans are still struggling to provide for their families and reach their full potential,” argued Representative Kevin Brady, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “The federal government invests billions of dollars each year in programs to help low-income Americans, but more than 43 million people continue to live in poverty.” But it’s not just the Republicans who have met this report with caution. Economic recovery finally started arriving for tens of millions of American families over the past year. We should make sure the economy is nurtured going forward, and not subverted by bad policy decisions, said Elise Gould, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington. In their coverage of this report, the  New York Times ’ Binyamin Appelbaum highlighted the story of Jeff Labruzzo, a construction worker from Louisiana who may have to close his small business due to economic hardship. This is not the kind of reporting you would expect to result from such an ebullient Census report. Of course, everything in the economy is not perfect. Median household income has not yet recovered to 2007 levels. The Affordable Care Act has done little to stop to skyrocketing increase in healthcare   premiums. And the Census Report does not address the much-reported statistic that 22 percent of men without a college degree between the ages of 21 and 30 did not work at all in 2015. But there is a bigger, more philosophical reason why coverage of the Census Bureau’s report has been so reserved: journalist’s have a bad-news bias. Turning on any news channel, this will not come as a shock. The 24-hour cycle has become a fatalistic frenzy, a highlight of all the things that could possibly kill us. But when media outlets report on something like this year’s Census report, their lack of exuberance comes not from a place of sensationalism, but from a sense of professionalism. To report that the economy is thriving–no matter how true that statement may be–would be to deny the experiences of so many Americans who are still struggling post-recession. And for many of today’s reporters, who entered the profession post-Watergate, their job is to be skeptical, to bring light to injustice and corruption, not to be cheerleaders. I appreciate that urge. But given the narrative around the election, one that has hinges on the failures of the Obama presidency, the shortcomings of the United States, and the weakness of both party’s candidates, good news deserves its spotlight. So, while it does not encompass all facets of the economy, or speak for every American’s experience, this year’s job report is unabashedly good news. And that deserves recognition. Sources: ● https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/09/13/things-are-getting-a-lot-better-for-the-working-poor/?wpisrc=nl_wonk&wpmm=1  ● https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2016/cb16-158.html  ● http://www.vox.com/2016/9/13/12903236/census-data-richer-cities?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Sentences%2091316&utm_content=Sentences%2091316+CID_e60c91ba9ecb31067929745a359ff0ed&utm_source=cm_email&utm_term=Vox%20%20Timothy%20B%20Lee  ● http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/census-bureau-poverty-income_us_57d81e15e4b09d7a687f  b02a  ● http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-poverty-idUSKCN11J1PP 
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