Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Median Household Income in 2018: $63,179

The good news: median household income is as high as it has ever been, at $63,179 in 2018. The bad news: after adjusting for inflation, median household income in 2018 is no higher than it was in 1999, according to the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey.

You won't be able to spot this fact in the CPS data tables released by the Census Bureau yesterday. That's because 2018 income data are not comparable to data from earlier years. The Census Bureau redesigned the Current Population Survey's income questions beginning in 2014 and data processing methods beginning in 2018. But in an America Counts story, bureau analysts adjusted the overall household median for these changes to allow for a comparison of the 2018 median with earlier medians. The 2018 median, it turns out, is as high but not significantly higher than the 1999 median, after adjusting for inflation.

Why is 2018's median household income almost identical to the median nearly 20 years ago? One big reason is the aging of the large Baby-Boom generation. In 1999, Boomers were in their peak-earning years, boosting the overall household median to a record high. In 2018, the demographic pattern is reversed. Boomers are retiring and living on reduced incomes. Generation X is in the peak-earning years (45 to 54), but with little impact on the overall median because of its small size. Here is median household income by age of householder in 2018...

Median household income by age of householder, 2018
Total households: $63,179
Under age 25: $43,531
Aged 25 to 34: $65,890
Aged 35 to 44: $80,743
Aged 45 to 54: $84,464
Aged 55 to 64: $68,951
Aged 65-plus: $43,696
  Aged 65 to 74: $52,465
  Aged 75-plus: $34,925

Source: Census Bureau, Current Population Survey Tables for Household Income

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