3 big reasons to slap a smile on your face after seeing the new Census report.

It's here, kids! It's here! The Census Bureau's report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2015 is FINALLY HERE!

We've spent so many days beside our empty Census boxes, eagerly awaiting the Census man in his apron, black tie, and cap to drop it off with a warm smile and friendly wave.

"Morning, Johnny!" Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.


Oh how excited we all were when we woke up this morning to the smell of warm ozone and printer ink, then scampered downstairs in our footy-pajamas to find a fresh-hot Census report awaiting us. What a day. What a glorious day!

The most recent Census report is brimming with good news.

News that honestly and truly means life is getting better for Americans just like you! That's right, you! Reading this right now on your phone. In your plaid shirt.

"It's me! He's talking about me!" Photo via iStock.

So go ahead and curl up with the full 70-page report and get ready to spend a couple of hours reading footnotes on how life is about to be several percentage points better for you and your loved ones.

(Just kidding, I did it for you.)

1. Average household income has increased 5.2% in the past year.

That's great news by itself, but the better news is that it's actually the first annual increase in household income since 2007 — the year before the housing market imploded and the U.S. economy sank faster than a cannonball tied to a piano.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

As always, race is a significant factor in income and economic growth, so there are disparities there. According to the report, Hispanic households saw a median increase of 6.1% and black households saw an increase of 4.1%. But! Households in every region of the United States saw an income increase. Which is pretty cool.

2. The poverty rate has decreased 1.2%.

It might not seem like a lot, and of course any place that calls itself "the land of opportunity" should be doing a better job of combatting poverty, but 1.2% is far from nothing.

In 2014, the estimated number of families living in poverty was 9.5 million. This latest report estimates the number at 8.6 million. So nearly a million families in America are no longer living in poverty.

Urban farming has recently been stimulating the economy in Detroit, which has some of the highest poverty levels in the U.S. Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

3. The number of people without health insurance has fallen.

In the period covered by the report, the number of uninsured people in the U.S. fell from 33 million to 29 million. So that's — hang on, give me a second — 4? Yeah. 4 million people who now have health insurance.

Even better? For the second year in a row, that increase in health insurance is true for every age group under 65.

People over 65 benefit from government-operated programs like Medicare. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images.

Things are looking up. But of course, there's still work to do.

On a family-to-family, human-to-human level, we're better off than we were last year — and much better off than eight years ago, when people were losing jobs by the millions and no one knew if the economy would totally collapse.

We got better. And we can get even better.

According to the report, income inequality has remained statistically unchanged. It's been an important issue in the 2016 election and has been on the minds of millions of Americans since 2008, when the market crashed.

Protesters at the New York Stock Exchange in 2008. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Racial disparities also continue to plague this country and make it measurably harder for some families to do as well as others. Not to mention the fact that despite the shrinking number, millions of Americans still don't have health insurance.

We've pulled ourselves out of a deep rut over the past several years, but we need to keep climbing, working toward things that have been proven to help the economy like immigration, infrastructure investment, and education, to name a few.

Americans face hardships every day, but we come out stronger and more ready for the next challenge. So next year, when the new Census Report on Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage comes out, I hope you all get as excited as I just did. If we work together to build a stronger, fairer, better America, the news next year will be even better.

History books are filled with photos of people we know primarily from their life stories or own writings. To picture them in real life, we must rely on sparse or grainy black-and-white photos and our own imaginations.

Now, thanks to some tech geeks with a dream, we can get a bit closer to seeing what iconic historical figures looked like in real life.

Most of us know Frederick Douglass as the famous abolitionist—a formerly enslaved Black American who wrote extensively about his experiences—but we may not know that he was also the most photographed American in the 19th century. In fact, we have more portraits of Frederick Douglass than we do of Abraham Lincoln.

This plethora of photos was on purpose. Douglass felt that photographs—as opposed to caricatures that were so often drawn of Black people—captured "the essential humanity of its subjects" and might help change how white people saw Black people.

In other words, he used photos to humanize himself and other Black people in white people's eyes.

Imagine what he'd think of the animating technology utilized on myheritage.com that allows us to see what he might have looked like in motion. La Marr Jurelle Bruce, a Black Studies professor at the University of Maryland, shared videos he created using photos of Douglass and the My Heritage Deep Nostalgia technology on Twitter.

Keep Reading Show less
Courtesy of Creative Commons
True

After years of service as a military nurse in the naval Marine Corps, Los Angeles, California-resident Rhonda Jackson became one of the 37,000 retired veterans in the U.S. who are currently experiencing homelessness — roughly eight percent of the entire homeless population.

"I was living in a one-bedroom apartment with no heat for two years," Jackson said. "The Department of Veterans Affairs was doing everything they could to help but I was not in a good situation."

One day in 2019, Jackson felt a sudden sense of hope for a better living arrangement when she caught wind of the ongoing construction of Veteran's Village in Carson, California — a 51-unit affordable housing development with one, two and three-bedroom apartments and supportive services to residents through a partnership with U.S.VETS.

Her feelings of hope quickly blossomed into a vision for her future when she learned that Veteran's Village was taking applications for residents to move in later that year after construction was complete.

"I was entered into a lottery and I just said to myself, 'Okay, this is going to work out,'" Jackson said. "The next thing I knew, I had won the lottery — in more ways than one."

Keep Reading Show less

'Love is a battlefield' indeed. They say you have to kiss ~~at least~~ a few frogs to find your prince and it's inevitable that in seeking long-term romantic satisfaction, slip ups will happen. Whether it's a lack of compatibility, unfortunate circumstances, or straight up bad taste in the desired sex, your first shot at monogamous bliss might not succeed. And that's okay! Those experiences enrich our lives and strengthen our resolve to find love. That's what I tell myself when trying to rationalize my three-month stint with the bassist of a terrible noise rock band.


One woman's viral tweet about a tacky mug wall encouraged people to share stories about second loves. Okay, first things first: Ana Stanowick's mom has a new boyfriend who's basically perfect. All the evidence you need is in the photograph:

Keep Reading Show less
via Saturday Night Live / YouTube

Through 46 seasons, "Saturday Night Live" has had its ups and downs. There were the golden years of '75 to '80 and, of course, the early '90s when everyone in the cast seemed to eventually become a superstar.

Then there were the disastrous '81 and '85 seasons where the show completely lost its identity and was on the brink of cancellation.

Keep Reading Show less