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Karl W. Smith

The Good News About Income Inequality

The working class is doing better, and it may reflect a fundamental change in the U.S. economy.

Workers with something to celebrate, 1997.

Workers with something to celebrate, 1997.

Photographer: JON LEVY/AFP

The headline from the U.S. Census Bureau’s report this week on health insurance coverage was that the ranks of the uninsured swelled by almost 2 million Americans in 2018. But the larger trends illustrated in the report are more consequential — and more positive — for the U.S. economy.

First, about those health-insurance numbers. More than half of the decline in insurance comes from a loss in Medicaid coverage. However, the number of uninsured households eligible for Medicaid actually fell by 145,000. Medicaid coverage declined because the number of households eligible for Medicaid also declined, by just under 2.5 million.