The number of people without health insurance fell by more than 1 million in 2007, the first annual decline since the Bush administration took office, the Census Bureau reported this week.

Incomes edged up for the middle class while poverty held steady.

The numbers represent a scorecard on President Bush’s stewardship of the economy at the kitchen-table level. But they only went as far as the end of last year, before the current economic downturn started gathering force. Although there were some bright spots, it was a mixed picture.

While the overall poverty rate held steady at 12.5 percent, poverty did rise among some groups. Latinos, children and the foreign-born — demographic categories that overlap considerably — experienced significant increases.

While the number of uninsured dropped to 45.7 million, down from 47 million in 2006, it was largely because more people were covered through government programs.

For the middle class, the median — or midpoint — household income rose to $50,233, a modest increase of $665 from the previous year, although it was the third consecutive annual rise.

“The gains that occurred last year were welcome, but unfortunately, they are too little, too late,” said Jared Bernstein, a senior economist with the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington. “The median household is no better off now than they were back in 2000, despite their deep contribution to the nation’s economic growth during this period.”

For example, after adjusting for inflation, last year’s median household income of $50,233 was not significantly different from the figure for 2000, which was $50,557. “The American work force is baking a bigger economic pie, but the slices haven’t grown at all,” Bernstein said.

But White House spokesman Tony Fratto said the household income and health insurance numbers are definitely good news.

“It’s clear that the long period of strong economic growth we were in had a positive impact for most Americans,” Fratto said. “Obviously today we’re dealing with higher energy prices and the downturn in housing, but the economy is showing enough resilience to keep growing in spite of those challenges.”

Republican candidate John McCain distanced himself from the White House response, saying in a statement, “Too many of our neighbors are living in poverty, too many can’t find a job, and too many are living without health insurance.” The Arizona senator pledged tax cuts and policy changes to make health care more affordable.

Some analysts said that global trends, not just administration policies, are shaping the economic fortunes of individual Americans.

“Presidents like to take credit when things go well, and therefore they should get the blame when things don’t go well, but there are lots of things driving this, not all of which are home grown,” said Douglas Besharov, an expert on poverty at the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute. “The oil shocks are not. And globalization, which on balance is good for the country, leaves winners and losers.”