Did you ever wonder how good is your monthly or yearly income compared to fellow Americans?
Knowing how much does the average American make can help you figure that out.
Before digging into details, let’s check some impressive stats.
The real median personal income in the US in 2019 is $35,977.
(Source: The Census Bureau)
The median average salary for workers in the United States in the first three months of 2020 was $51,168 per year. Any amount above that should theoretically be considered a good salary; however, it is not as easy as that. What is considered a good salary in one city may not be so in another. Other factors that determine a good salary is the type of job, level of education, and sadly, even gender and race.
(Source: The Balance Careers)
About 34.1% of Americans earn an annual salary of over $100,000. Around 15.5% of the population earns between $100,000 and $149,999; about 8.3% of the population earns between $150,000 and $199,999; and about 10.3% of the population earn over $200,000.
According to a research study released in 2018, about 52% of US adults have middle-class income. This income ranges from around $48,500 to $145,500.
(Source: PEW Research Center)
According to PEW Research, middle-class Americans are those who have an annual income that is two-thirds to double the national salary average, adjusted for household size and cost of living. For example, for a family of three, the middle-class income can be anywhere between $48,100 and $120,400, according to PEW Research Center.
In another research, the range for a middle-class household of three is between $53,413 and $106,827.
(Source: PEW Research Center, US News)
It is an increase of 6.8% from 2018 numbers. Also, looking at the average American income per person numbers, 2 people, on average, contribute to average household incomes.
(Source: US Census Bureau)
If you are keen on household income growth trends since 2014 US median household income has been rising. It was $58,001 in 2014, $50,987 in 2015, $62898 in 2016, $63,761 in 2017, $64,324 in 2018 and $68,703 in 2019.
In 2019, Maryland had the highest median household income in the US, with $95,572. Following it is the District Of Columbia with $93,111, while Mississippi, with $44,787/year, has the least average income.
An increase of 3% from 2018. While for men, the increase is only 2.1%. When you look at real numbers, it stands at $57,456.
If you want to compare the average male annual income vs. average female annual income, the median value for full-time working male stands at $57,456, and for females, it is at $47,299. However, as per average American salaries statistics, there is no difference in men vs. women’s earning ratios in 2018 and 2019.
Age is an essential variable while considering the average income in any country. As experience is a crucial determinant of average salary, we decided to present numbers on that front.
Based on the data from the US Bureau Of Labor Statistics, 2020 (3rd Quarter) 35-44 years is the highest income age-group.
Age Group Monthly Median Average Wage
65+ years of age: $4024 per month
55–64 years of age: $4432 per month
45–54 years of age: $4616 per month
35–44 years of age: $4516 per month
25–34 years of age: $3672 per month
20–24 years of age: $2516 per month
Source: Bureau of LabourBLS publishes these numbers for every Quarter. They published the numbers on average wages per week. Here the numbers are adjusted for monthly wages to give you a complete picture of the impacts of age on average monthly wages in the US.
An interesting aspect worth noting here is that this represents a record high, considering the fact that the income has always been lower. For instance, the previous record put the average household income at $60,000 annually, and this was before the economic crisis, back in 1999. Over the last couple of years, the numbers have fluctuated quite a bit before hitting this threshold, as determined by statistics concerning the average American salary.
Source: US Census Bureau
The average wage in 2019 in the US was $51,916.27, and the average median wage was $34,248.45.
There is a big difference between the SSA average wage and median wage data. The average numbers are bigger because high-earner individuals jack them up. Also, there is a difference between the average wage and average household income in the US. Wage is just the income of individuals earned from the jobs. While household incomes also include capital gains and dividends. Also, household income is the income of all earners and earnings.
There are 34 million people below the poverty line in the US. The poverty rate in the US decreased from 11.8% in 2018 to 10.5% in 2019. Since 2014, the poverty rate in America is declining every year. It decreased from 14.8% in 2014 to 10.5% in 2019. When you look at the percentage points, it might not seem that big, but take a look at real numbers. In 2018-2019, America had 4.2million lesser people below the national poverty line.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest-paid people are the Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers that earn a median pay of $22,140. As you can see, this is the main reason why fast food and restaurant workers are always at the center of higher living wage debates. With an hourly rate of about $10 (and even less in some states), this category of workers are the lowest paid in the country.
(Source: Go Banking Rates)
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the medical and health field have the highest hourly salary rates. Doctors earn roughly an average salary of $89 per hour and the hourly wage is higher for some specialties and lower for others. For example, anesthesiologists have an average pay of about $113 per hour, while a general dentist has an hourly pay of $77.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
A US worker typically earns about $94,700 per year. The lowest median American salary is about $24,000 while the highest average salary is $423,000, although the actual maximum salary is much higher. This salary includes housing, transport, and other benefits. Salaries also vary drastically between different industries and job titles.
(Source: Salary Explorer)
Anesthesiologists have the highest US wages with a salary potential of $411,000 per year. Anesthesiologists play a crucial role during surgical procedures and their training takes four to six years of residency plus fellowship program or private practice.
(Source: Career Addict)
What annual wage is considered rich?
If you want to be considered rich in the United States, you need to have a net worth of at least $2.3 million, accordion to a Charles Schwab wealth survey.
An estimated 63% of Americans say they live paycheck by paycheck since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020, according to a salary statistic. Only 53% of the respondents of the survey said they were not living check by check before the pandemic and about 44% said they were living beyond their means before the pandemic even started.
(Source: Highland Solutions)
According to Statista, about 9.1% of Americans make under $15,000 and an additional 8% of Americans have an annual pay between $15,001 and $25,000. The BLS state that people who earn an annual wage between $20,000 are considered impoverished.
A-list celebrities make tens of millions of dollars every year. However, these aren’t your average career. Typical careers that make the most are, not surprisingly, from the medical field. An anesthesiologist has the potential to earn over $400,000 in a year while a surgeon has an annual median wage of $353,220 per year with a growth percentage of 18%. Other highest paying jobs also belong to the medical fields.
Over 19 million Americans from a global total of 42 million are among the richest 1% in the world. This number is way ahead of any other country, the second being China with 4.2 million citizens in the world’s top 1%. This indicates that the United States is indeed the “Land of Opportunities.”
(Source: Credit Suisse)
Income inequality is closely linked to the racial divide in the United States, according to national average pay stats. Poverty is most acute among black Americans and the Latinx community. About 21% of black Americans and 18% of Latinx live below the poverty line as compared to only 8% of white people. In addition, the average white household has 41% more wealth than an average black family and 22% more wealth than a Latinx family.
(Source: Inequality.org, Statista)
The COVID-19 pandemic response reduced the poverty rate amongst all ethnic groups, according to salaries statistics. Black Americans have a poverty rate of 15.2% after the post-pandemic policies but it was expected to be 20.5% without them. Hispanics showed a 13.7% poverty rate with the policies and an 18.2% rate without them. Among white people, the estimated poverty rate is 6.6% with the pandemic policies and a projected 9% without them.
Let me add some more numbers to emphasize income inequality in the US.
The top 20% of families in the US in 2018 made half of US annual income.
The top 1% average annual income increase by 157.3% between 1979-2017.
These numbers from EPI explain – wages of the top 1% income earners in America are growing at an incredible pace. Other numbers from EPI also say that the top 1% average income in 2015 was 26.3 times more than a family in the bottom 99%.
You need to earn that much to be in the top 1% income earners in the US. Based on data curated by Bloomberg, that numbers are a bit high on a global scale. You need $744,400 to be in the top 1% of income earners globally.
In the same way, according to Bloomberg, you need to earn 10 million annual income to be in the top 0.01% earners.
The top 20% income earners contribute 80% of the wealth in the US. And the stat top 1% own 40% of the wealth, further emphasizes the scenario of income inequality in the US. It might sound even worse in terms of income disparity, with this -the bottom half of the income earners only own 2% of the wealth.
Below, you will see more about the average household income (median) for each US state, for 2017, based on data compiled by the US Census Bureau:
The following chart, based on the data provided by Statista, helps paint a better picture of how income is distributed in the United States according to the percentage of households holding specific income brackets:
The US has been dealing with an income inequality problem for years, given that the highest earners tend to have a considerably larger income when compared to most individuals. Therefore, in practice, you can expect significant differences for all income categories, including the average retirement income, average white-collar income, and average blue-collar income.
Before anything else, it is important to point out the fact that the numbers that we are about to mention refer strictly to the income of one individual, thus completely disregarding the income of their family or the income of the household. As such, numbers released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that in the final fiscal quarter of the year 2018, the average salary in America for your standard full-time employee was approximated at $46,800. It is important to mention that this is an increase of at least 5% when compared to the previous year, thus illustrating that Americans are currently earning higher salaries. It is certainly interesting to compare this to the cost of living. As such, studies are currently being carried out to determine whether the latest increase in the US average income has led to higher prices as well.
The following table will give readers more insight into how the real US median income has changed for households over the last couple of years:
|Year||Real Household Income (Median)|
Source: The Balance
1. It is a crucial factor in budgeting, understanding your own financial needs, and negotiating a new salary.
2. Understanding what is the average income in the US can give us a broad picture of standards of living and how much it costs to live in the United States
3. If you plan to move to the states, knowing this information can help you do better salary negotiations and budget planning for the stay.
Numerous factors have either a direct or indirect impact on the average income of Americans. For this article, we will mention the main factors that influence the income at the individual’s level, rather than macroeconomic factors that influence the national income grid, according to statistics on the average American income.
As you might expect, some jobs pay more, whereas some pay less. For instance, information technology (IT) employment generally offers higher salaries than other popular domains. The median pay for an IT worker is estimated at $75,000–100,000, whereas the median pay for a person working in the educational market is $50,000–75,000. Therefore, there are industry averages for each niche of work.
During the last couple of years, with the increasing popularity of remote jobs, the geographic location has become less important in determining a person’s income. Despite this aspect, people living in expensive areas, such as San Francisco or New York, can generally expect a higher income since it is mandatory when ensuring that employees can sustain their lifestyle. Therefore, the average wage in the US is considerably lower when compared to these high-income areas. Higher prices lead to higher salaries according to economic laws, yet a higher salary in a high-income location will not generally buy you a better quality-of-life, given the high prices for all products and services. The median salary for a US-based tech worker is averaged at $100,000, whereas in India, the same employee’s median income would be under $25,000 annually. This helps us better understand the average income in the USA compared to the rest of the world.
Experience and skill are some of the best-known factors that influence national income averages. Entry-level salaries are generally lower. Despite this aspect, pay increases flatten out following 15 years of experience, unless employees manage to be promoted to managerial positions. When analyzing American average wage in the IT market, employees with 20+ years of experience made roughly $140,000 per year in 2017, whereas those with less than 5 years of experience made less than $80,000.
Source: Puppet Salary
The US Census Bureau generally offers two main averages: The mean income and the median income.
The mean: It takes all US-based income and divides it based on the people who have reported their earnings (your standard average). The issue here is that, like in most of the world’s countries, there is massive income inequality, meaning that people who earn a lot of money tend to drive the averages up.
The Median: It represents the point at which 50% of people make more, and 50% of people make less — it’s better suited for determining a country-wide average.
In 2017, the US median family income was estimated at $73,891 by the US Census Bureau. Keep in mind that this is the median income, meaning that it is not your usual mathematical average since that would considerably push the numbers up due to the incredibly large amounts of money earned by the richest US citizens. As such, we should note that the US median income represents the point where 50% of people start earning more and 50% start earning less — hence why it is used as a solid point of reference.
Do keep in mind that the average family income represents the amount earned by families consisting of at least two people that live in the same household at the same time.
Over the last 3 years, this average income has increased by roughly 8.17%.
The answer to this question is quite complicated, given the complex taxation framework that operates in the United States. Based on this aspect, the taxation system works via tax brackets — in 2019, the tax brackets implemented by the federal government were between 10% and 37% of the total income, subject to change based on the individuals’ incomes. Because of this, it is yet again important for us to apply the median formulas to help determine a credible average paid in taxes.
What’s more, research efforts have estimated that in 2018 Americans paid roughly $10,480 in taxes, which sums up to 14% of the average household income.
Firstly, it is important for us to agree on what a good salary actually represents since there are numerous conflicting opinions on this matter. First off, good is above average and should be able to afford people enough money to cover living expenses, food, transportation expenses, utilities, apparel, and credit payments, while living a little wiggle room for savings and for occasional purchases. Therefore, a good salary is certainly higher when compared to the average salary in America.
Similarly, a good salary depends on the area where you live. For instance, for those living in the San Francisco area, $100,000 per year might be considered average. On the other hand, a $50,000 average yearly income is good enough for people living in more rural areas. Therefore, we can use this information to state that a good salary in the urban area ranges from $70,000–150,000, whereas a good salary in rural areas ranges from $50,000–$80,000. Of course, the median household income also varies considerably.