Have you ever wondered how good your monthly or yearly income is compared to your fellow Americans? Knowing how much the average American makes can help you figure that out.
We curated such numbers here.
The real median personal income in the US in 2019 was $35,977/year.
Source: FRED Economic Data
The weekly median earnings for full-time wage or salary workers in the United States in the second quarter of 2021 amounted to $990. It translates to a yearly income of approximately $51,480. 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 are the type of job, level of education, and, sadly, even gender and race.
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
According to Pew Research, middle-class households have an annual income of two-thirds to double the national median household income. In 2018, the middle-class income ranged between $48,500 and $145,500.In another research of 2019, the income range for a middle-class household of three was between $53,413 and $106,827.
It is an increase of 6.8% from 2018 numbers. Due to the fact that many households consist of only one person, the average household income is usually lower than the average family income.
Source: US Census Bureau
If you are keen on household income growth trends, since 2014, US median household income has been rising. It was $55,613 in 2014, $58,476 in 2015, $60,309 in 2016, $62,626 in 2017, $64,324 in 2018, and $68,703 in 2019.
Maryland, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were among the highest median household income states in 2019.Maryland had the highest median household income in the US, with $95,572. New Jersey and Massachusetts had an income of $87,726 and $87,707, respectively.
That’s an increase of 3% from 2018; for men, the increase was only 2.1%.
Source: US Census Bureau
If you compare the median male vs female annual income, the median value for full-time working males stood at $57,456, while for females, it was $47,299 in 2019. The ratio of men’s earrings to women’s was 0,823 in 2019, indicating not much difference compared to the 2018 statistics.
Source: US Census Bureau
Age is an essential variable when 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 US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021 (2nd Quarter) data, 45-54 years is the highest income age, group.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes median weekly earnings data for every quarter. 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.
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics
There has been an increase in real median household income of 6.8% compared to the data of 2018 when it was $64,324.
Additionally, median income increased for all US regions:
Source: US Census Bureau
The average annual wage in 2019 in the US was $51,916.27, and the median annual wage was $34,248.45.
The median wage is the wage “in the middle,” while the average refers to the measure of central tendency for all the data. There is a big difference between the average and median wage data. The average numbers are higher because the distribution of workers by wage is highly skewed.
The poverty rate in the US decreased from 11.8% in 2018 to 10.5% in 2019. In 2019, there were 34 million people below the poverty line in the US.
Since 2014, the poverty rate in America has been 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 2019, America had 4.2 million fewer people in poverty than in 2018.
Source: US Census Bureau
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the lowest-paid people are the Combined Food Preparation and Serving Workers, with a mean annual pay of $22,140. As you can see, this is the main reason why fast food and restaurant workers are always at the centre of higher living wage debates. With a median hourly rate of about $10, this category of workers is the lowest paid in the country.
Source: Go Banking Rates
According to Statista, about 9.1% of Americans make under $15,000, and an additional 8% have an annual pay between $15,001 and $25,000.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in the medical field have the highest hourly wage rates. Doctors earn roughly $89 per hour. The hourly wage is higher for some specialities and lower for others. For example, anesthesiologists have an average pay of about $113 per hour, while general dentists get $77 per hour.
Source: Prospective Doctor
As mentioned in the previous stat, Anesthesiologists have the highest US wages, with a salary potential of $411,000 per year. This should not be a surprise as anesthesiologists play a crucial role during surgical procedures, and their medical training takes 12 to 13 years.
Source: Career Addict
If you want to be considered rich in the United States, you need to have a net worth of at least $2.3 million, according to a poll by SeniorLiving.org. For individuals still working, you’d need to make $300,000 per year to obtain the “rich” title.
An estimated 63% of Americans say they have lived paycheck by paycheck since the coronavirus pandemic lockdown in March 2020. Only 53% of the survey participants said they were not living check by check before the pandemic, while about 44% said they were living beyond their means before the pandemic even started. So corona changed things for a substantial part of American society.
Source: Highland Solutions
What careers make you rich?
A-list celebrities make tens of millions of dollars every year. However, these aren’t your average careers. Typical careers that make the most are, not surprisingly, from the medical field. An anesthesiologist has the potential to earn over $400,000 a year, while a surgeon has a median annual wage of $208,000 or higher. Other highest-paying jobs also belong to the medical fields.
20,914 Americans are from the richest 1% in the world. This number is way ahead of any other country, the second being China, with 4,887 citizens in the world’s top 1%. This indicates that the United States is indeed the “Land of Opportunities.”
Source: Credit Suisse
You need to earn that much to be in the US's top 1% of income earners. According to the Global Wealth Report, $1,055,337 is required to be in the top 1% of income earners globally.
Let me add some more numbers to emphasize income inequality in the US. The top 20% of households with an income over $100,000 in the US in 2018 made half of the US annual income. In 2017, the top 1% of earners earned 157.3% more than they did in 1979. These EPI numbers show that wages of the top 1% of income earners in America are growing at an incredible pace.
In the same way, according to Bloomberg, you need to earn more than $10 million annual income to be in the top 0.01% earners.
That’s a 2.8% increase from the year 2000. This fact further emphasizes the scenario of income inequality in the US.
Source: Global Wealth
According to national average pay stats, income inequality is closely linked to the racial divide in the United States. Poverty is most acute among black Americans and Hispanic communities.
In 2019, about 18.8% of black Americans and 15.7% of Hispanics lived below the poverty line as compared to only 7.3% of non-Hispanic white people. The median household income in the same year was $76,057 for white households, while it was much lower for Black and Hispanic households: $45,438 and $56,113, respectively.
According to the Urban Institute projections as of June 30, 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic response policies may reduce the poverty rates amongst all ethnic groups. Black Americans may have a poverty rate of 15.2% after the pandemic response policies instead of 20.5% without them. Hispanics may show a 13.7% poverty rate with the policies and an 18.2% rate without them. Among white people, the estimated poverty rate maybe 6.6% with the pandemic policies and a projected 9% without them.
Below, you will see more about the median household income 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, white-collar income, and blue-collar income.
Before anything else, it is important to point out that the numbers we are about to mention refer strictly to the income of one individual, thus completely disregarding the income of their family or the household income.
As such, numbers released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, show that in the second fiscal quarter of the year 2021, the median usual earnings in America for your standard full-time employee were $990 per week, which translates to approximately $51,480 per year.
It is important to mention that this is a slight increase when compared to the previous years, 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 median income has also led to higher prices.
The following table will give readers more insight into how the real US median income has changed for households since 1997:
|Year||Real Household Income (Median)|
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 income at the individual 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) generally offers higher salaries than other popular domains. The average pay for an IT worker is estimated at $75,000–$100,000, whereas the average 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, 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 US average wage is considerably lower compared to these high-income areas.
According to basic economics, higher salaries lead to higher salaries, 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 average salary for a US-based tech worker in 2020 was $146,000, whereas the same employee’s average income would be under $25,000 annually in India. 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 wages in the IT market, more specifically the UX professionals, it has been found that each year of experience adds about $2,700 to the average salary.
The US Census Bureau generally offers two main averages: the mean income and the median income.
The mean: It sums up all the income and divides it by the number of people who have reported their earnings. 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 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 2019, the US median family income was estimated at $86,011 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 who live in the same household at the same time. Compared to 2018, this average income has increased by 7.4%.
The answer to this question is quite complicated, given the complex taxation framework that operates in the United States.
The taxation system works via tax brackets — in 2021, 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. Interestingly, in 2018, the top 1% of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90% combined.
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 enough for people to cover living expenses, food, transportation expenses, utilities, apparel, and credit payments while leaving a little wiggle room for savings and 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 you live. For instance, $100,000 per year might be considered average for those living in the San Francisco area. On the other hand, a $50,000 average yearly income is good enough for people living in rural areas. If we have to give an approximation, 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.
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