What’s the median household income in the US?
September 21, 2023 6 min read
Median household income refers to the money brought in by all residents of a household who are at least 15 years old. It can help measure the overall trend in income for the U.S., and it also tracks a household’s financial health.
Median household income typically rises over time. But factors like location, age and race affect how much the average household earns.
- The median household income in the U.S. was $70,784 in 2021.
- To calculate your household income, add up any income sources from all the people who live in your household and are at least 15 years old.
- Median incomes generally increase over time, and they vary widely by factors such as location, age and race/ethnicity.
What does household income mean?
Household income includes all sources of income for you, your family members and anyone else who lives with you above a certain age. It refers to the gross income of your household, which is income before any taxes or other deductions are taken from the paycheck.
To calculate your household income, figure out the gross annual pay for each household member who’s at least 15 years old. Then add those gross incomes together to get your household income value. In 2021, the median household income in the U.S. was $70,784, according to the Census Bureau.
Here are some examples of common sources of household income, which can include both earned and unearned income:
What’s the median US household income?
The median U.S. household income was $70,784 in 2021, which is slightly lower than the previous year. In 2020, median income in the U.S. was $71,186.
Median US household income by year
Household incomes may fluctuate from year to year because factors like wages, hours worked and inflation are always changing. Major events, like the COVID-19 pandemic, can also affect median incomes. Between 2019 and 2020, median household incomes dropped by 2.9% due to pandemic-related changes in the workforce.
Below is a table that shows the median U.S. household income each year from 2011 through 2021 according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
|Year||Median household income|
Median US household income by state
Household income can also vary widely by state.
The median income in the highest-earning state, Maryland, is more than double the median income in the lowest-earning state, Mississippi. Factors like unemployment and the cost of living vary by region and therefore contribute to the differences in income across the U.S.
Below is a table that shows the median household income for each state in the U.S. in 2021 according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:
|State/district||2021 median household income|
|District of Columbia||$90,640|
Median US household income by age
Age also plays a role in how much households earn. Adults in the 45-54 age group represent the top earners, with a median household income of $97,089.
Generally speaking, earnings start low for the youngest demographic because they have less job experience, education and training. People earn more each year until they reach retirement age, when incomes start to slide back down. People in the oldest age group may work fewer hours or appear to earn less because they’re living off savings.
The table below shows the median household income by age group in the U.S. according to the U.S. Census Bureau:
|Age of head of household||2021 median household income|
|15-24 years old||$51,645|
|25-34 years old||$74,862|
|35-44 years old||$90,312|
|45-54 years old||$97,089|
|55-64 years old||$75,842|
|65+ years old||$47,620|
Median US household income by race/ethnicity
In the U.S., incomes vary widely by race/ethnicity. Asian households had the highest median income in 2021, while Black Americans had the lowest.
Below is a table that shows the median household income by race/ethnicity as they’re categorized by the U.S. Census Bureau:
|Race/ethnicity||2021 median household income|
Median household income FAQ
How do you calculate household income?
To calculate household income, first make a list of everyone in your home who’s at least 15 years old. Write down the gross income they receive from all sources, such as wages, tips, pensions, Social Security benefits and investments. Add everything together to find the value of your household income.
Is household income gross or net?
Household income refers to gross pay, which is the total income you receive before taxes and other deductions, such as health insurance, are taken out. Net income, on the other hand, is your take-home pay. That’s the money left over after deductions and taxes are withheld.
What is median household income?
In a set of numbers, the “median” is exactly in the middle. So with median household incomes, half of all households earn more than the median while half earn less. You can also measure household income by calculating the “mean,” which is also known as the “average.” This calculation involves adding up all the household wages across the U.S. and dividing by the number of values in the set. Median income is more representative because it refers to the exact middle figure among the range of salaries reported.
How much did median household income change in 2021?
Between 2020 and 2021, the median U.S. income dropped by less than 1%, falling from $71,186 to $70,784.
Median household income in a nutshell
Median household income can vary widely based on factors like age, race/ethnicity, where you live and the number of people in a household. It dipped slightly between 2020 and 2021, but it generally rises over time.
Typically, median household incomes tend to be the highest in the Northeast, and Asian households tend to earn the most. Age is also a factor, as workers who are between 45 and 54 earn the highest amount compared to younger and older workers.
Knowing the median household income can help you understand the overall health of the economy in the U.S. and your state, as well as how your income compares to that of others.