US Household Income Trends and Demographic Breakouts in 2012

October 1, 2013

This article is included in these additional categories:

African-American | Asian-American | Boomers & Older | Hispanic | Household Income | Men | Women | Youth & Gen X

CensusBureau-Media-Household-Income-Trends-1967-2012-Sept2013The median household income in the US was $51,017 last year, according to recent data released by the US Census Bureau based on official national findings from the Current Population Survey. Real median household income (in 2012 dollars) has grown from $42,934 in 1967, but has failed to recover from its peak of $56,080 in 1999. In fact, median household income has declined in every year since 2007. The data provides some intriguing breakouts based on age and ethnicity.

According to the Census Bureau’s age breakdown, real median household income (HHI) is:

  • Highest among 45-54-year-old householders ($66,411 last year); followed by
  • 35-44-year-old householders ($63,629);
  • 55-64-year-old householders ($58,626);
  • 25-34-year-old householders ($51,381);
  • Householders aged 65 and up ($33,848); and
  • 15-24-year-old householders ($30,604).

Over the past 30 years (since 1982), real median HHI has grown most rapidly for the 65 and up age group (by 34%), followed by the 55-64 (16.2%), 25-34 (5.7%), 35-44 (5.6%), and 45-54 (3.9%) brackets. There has been no statistically significant difference in real median HHI for 15-24-year-old householders over that period.

When sorting by race and Hispanic origin, the study indicates that:

  • Asians have the highest median HHI, of $68,636;
  • Non-Hispanic whites are next, at $57,009, followed by;
  • Hispanics, at $39,005; and
  • Blacks, at $33,321.

While median household income has grown by about 19% since 1967, the top percentiles have experienced far more rapid growth:

  • Real HHI for the households in the 95th percentile has increased by 67%, to $191,156 last year; and
  • HHI for households in the 90th percentile has grown by 61.5% to to $146,000 last year, but;
  • HHI for households in the 10th percentile has increased by only 25% over that time span, to $12,236.

What that effectively means is that while those in the 95th percentile enjoyed a HHI almost 12 times greater than those in the 10th percentile back in 1967, that gap has now reached a multiple of almost 16.

Other Findings:

  • The median household income for a family of 4 last year was $66,000. Families in the 99th percentile enjoyed an average (mean) income of $445,000.
  • Between 2007 and 2012, the lowest quintile of households saw their adjusted mean income decrease by an average of 3.3% annually. The highest quintile’s mean income declined by 0.5% per year during the same time period.
  • The top 5% of households took home 22.3% of aggregate income last year;
  • Among full-time year-round workers, women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio stood at 77% last year ($37,791 compared to $49,498). That ratio has steadily grown from 61% in 1960. The disparity is greatest among 45-64-year-olds (74% ratio), and smallest among 18-24-year-olds (88% ratio).
  • 46.5 million Americans lived in poverty last year, or 15% of the population. That’s down from 22.4% in 1959, but up from 11.3% in 2000.
  • The poverty rate was highest among Black Americans (27.2%) and Hispanics (25.6%), and was considerably lower among Asians (11.7%) and non-Hispanic whites (9.7%).

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