Is $68,000 considered a good income that you and your family can comfortably live on? Probably not in most places, but this is roughly the median income of the average American household in 2019 (before the pandemic!). Or stated another way – 50% of households make less than this amount, while 50% make more. But income levels do vary by state, reflecting the disparate cost of living across the nation. As the table below shows northern states like New Hampshire and Connecticut have much higher household incomes than those in the South, with an almost $40,000 difference between the highest and lowest income states. Talk about income inequality in this nation!
2019 was a good year for American households with the median household rising 6.8 percent from the 2018 median of $64,324. This is the fifth consecutive annual increase in median household income for family households. Median household incomes increased for all regions in 2019; 6.8 percent in the Northeast, 4.8 percent in the Midwest, 6.1 percent in the South, and 7.0 percent in the West.
Household income is a measure commonly used by the United States government and private institutions, that counts the income of all residents over the age of 18 in each household, including not only all wages and salaries, but such items as unemployment insurance, disability payments, child support payments, regular rental receipts, as well as any personal business, investment, or other kinds of income received routinely. The residents of the household do not have to be related to the head of the household for their earnings to be considered part of the household’s income.
While the average income, in real (inflation adjusted) terms, has grown at a steady pace during the 20th century, it has remained relatively flat during the 21st century. The main exception to this are the ultra-wealthy, about 2% of the population, who now account for roughly 25% of all household income. This is about double that it was 30 years ago. While the the bottom 10% earned only 1% of the national income – confirming many liberal views that the rich get richer, while the poor get poorer.
Where does your household income stand?
Based on the latest census bureau data, you can use the following guide to roughly asses which income percentile your household falls relative to other Americans: