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  September 15th, 2016 | Written by

Economy’s Numbers Good News for Small Businesses

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  • Median household income increased 5.2 percent from 2014 to 2015.
  • U.S. Census Bureau reports boost in consumer confidence and spending.
  • Census report shows income at near pre-recession levels.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its report, “Income and Poverty in the United States: 2015,” earlier this week showing the first increase in median household incomes since 2007, and a 1.2 percent decrease in the nation’s poverty rate.

In the midst of slow recovery, this uptick in household incomes is music to the ears of small business owners who have already begun to feel the impact on their bottom line as incomes surged to near pre-recession levels. The boost in household income is one factor in recently reported increases in consumer spending, particularly in the retail and food service sectors.

Also encouraging was the decrease in households living below the poverty line. A 1.2 percent decrease from 2014 is representative of 1.1 million families and 3.5 million individuals who can now play a more significant role in their local economies and conduct business at local shops and restaurants.

Looking at the numbers by race, Hispanic households fared the best with a 6.1 percent bump in pay, while African-American households saw the smallest boost of 4.1 percent. Wages grew at a similar rate for both men and women, while women still brought home 80 percent of what their male counterparts earned, albeit a three-percent improvement from the year prior.

The data show that despite a slow and unsteady recovery, wages are recovering well and small business owners are in their strongest position to thrive in over a decade. Still, the pay gap in place for women and the slower growth experienced by black households raises cause for concern.

Confident that rising wages will give way to more rapid economic growth, Main Street small business owners vow to continue advocating for state and local wages increases and call on Congress to raise the wage at the federal level, narrowing the gender gap, and fueling the local economies on which their businesses depend.

“Any time there is a boost in household incomes the small businesses on Main Street can anticipate a positive impact on their bottom lines,” said Amanda Ballantyne, national director of the Main Street Alliance, a national network of small business coalitions. “We need to continue to work to put small businesses in the best position to succeed by raising wages nationwide, closing the gender-based pay gap, and ensuring equal participation in our consumer-driven economy for women and people of color.”