Category Archives: median household income

Median Household Income in March 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in March 2022 is $75,539, an increase of $740 (or 0.99%) from the initial estimate of $74,799 in February 2022.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through March 2022. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant March 2022 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to March 2022

Now for the bad news. March 2022's estimated median household income of $75,539 is $286 (or 0.4%) below February 2022's inflation-adjusted estimate of $75,825 in terms of constant March 2022 U.S. dollars. It is also lower than December 2021 inflation-adjusted estimate of $75,775.

Going back to the nominal, non-inflation adjusted data, median household income rose by $2,059 from December 2021's revised estimate of $73,480 to March 2022's estimate of $75,539. All of that increase, and then some, has been eroded by President Biden's inflation and the economic fallout from Russia's 24 February 2022 invasion of Ukraine. It's no accident the first estimate of real GDP growth in 2022-Q1 is negative.

Analyst's Notes

For March 2022, the BEA made a minor upward revisions in the wage and salary data for January 2022 (+0.06%) and a more notable one for February 2022 (+0.32%).

References

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 29 April 2022 . Accessed: 29 April 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 29 April 2022. Accessed: 29 April 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 12 April 2022. Accessed: 12 April 2022.

Raw Affordability of New Homes Holds Steady at Record Low

The raw affordability of new homes held steady at record low levels in February 2022. While median household income increased, that increase kept pace with the ongoing escalation of new home prices.

The following chart confirms that assessment. We find median household income stayed at a record low of 17.8% of the median sale price of a new home in February 2022, effectively tying for the lowest level of affordability by this measure on record.

Relative Affordability of New Home Prices | Annual: 1967-2020 | Monthly: December 2000 - February 2022

Extending out several more decimal places, January 2022 edges February 2022 for having the lowest-ever level of raw affordability for new homes in the U.S.

Taking the average 30-year conventional mortgage rate for February 2022 into account however, we find the mortgage payment for the median new home sold in February 2022 dipped slightly as a share of the typical income earned by an American household. Alas, not enough to break the uptrend that began after the Coronavirus Recession ended in April 2020. The next chart shows that outcome:

Mortgage Payment for a Median New Home as a Percentage of Median Household Income, January 2000 - February 2022

The average mortgage payment for a median new home sold in February 2022 represents 29.8% of the income for the median American household.

To close, we have a bonus chart for this month's analysis, which visualizes the trailing twelve month averages for both median new home sale prices and median household income.

U.S. Median New Home Sale Price vs Median Household Income | Annual: 1999-2020 | Monthly: December 2000 - February 2022

Notice how new home sale prices suddenly accelerated after March 2021, when President Biden's American Rescue Plan stimulus checks started flooding into the U.S. economy? The median sale price of new homes has increased by $56,975, far outstripping the $4,611 increase in median household income. But that doesn't consider the effect of the additional inflation that has eroded the purchasing power of the typical American household in the period since.

References

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 25 February 2022. 

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Median and Average Sale Price of Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 23 March 2022. 

Freddie Mac. 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Since 1971. [Online Database]. Accessed 23 March 2022.

Median Household Income in February 2022

Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in February 2022 is $74,799, an increase of $700 (or 0.94%) from the initial estimate of $74,099 in January 2022.

The latest update to Political Calculations' chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through February 2022. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant February 2022 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Modeled Estimates, January 2000 to February 2022

February 2022's estimated median household income of $74,799 is just $21 higher than January 2022's inflation-adjusted estimate of $74,778 in terms of constant February 2022 U.S. dollars. It is also only $24 higher than December 2021's $74,775 by this measure.

In nominal terms, median household increase has risen by $1,319 from December 2021's revised estimate of $73,480 to February 2022's $74,799. President Biden's inflation has eroded 98.2% of the estimated nominal increase in median household income recorded over this period, marking it as a period of stagnation.

Analyst's Notes

Following January 2022's rather extensive revisions for population estimates, February 2022's revisions were concentrated in the wage and salary data. Here, the BEA made only minor upward adjustments its estimates of aggregate wage and salary income for October 2021 (+0.005%), November 2021 (+0.006%), December 2021 (+0.020%), and January 2022 (+0.006%).

Looking forward, we anticipate the inflation-adjusted data for March 2022 will capture nearly all of the surge in energy and commodity prices resulting from following Russia's 24 February 2022 invasion of Ukraine and the geopolitical power plays that have followed since. Having occurred so late in February however, that month's inflation data barely shows any of that impact.

References

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 31 March 2022. Accessed: 31 March 2022.

U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 31 March 2022. Accessed: 31 March 2022.

U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 10 March 2022. Accessed: 10 March 2022.

Different Views of Monthly Median Household Income

As promised, we're comparing Political Calculations estimates of median household income in the United States with those of our competition!

In the private sector, that competition is represented by Sentier Research, which produced monthly estimates of median household income from December 2000 through December 2019 utilizing a methodology the firm's former Census Bureau analysts' developed using data from the U.S. Census Bureau's monthly Current Population Survey. In the public sector, the competition is the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, whose analysts project their own estimates from the Census Bureau's one-year estimates of median household income from the American Community Survey, where their estimates start in January 2006.

The following chart visualizes all three data series from January 2006 through December 2021, which covers nearly all the period where they overlap.

Monthly Estimates of U.S. Median Household Income, January 2006 - December 2021

As you can see, all these estimates range within a few percent of each other from January 2006 through October 2018. After that point, there's a major divergence between the Atlanta Fed's estimates and the others, where we note the following three differences:

  1. The Atlanta Fed's estimates understate the rising trend for median household income observed in 2019.
  2. They also completely miss the impact and recovery from the coronavirus recession in 2020.
  3. They significantly understate the robust growth in median household income we've observed since March 2021.

Political Calculations' estimates of median household income generally tracks with Sentier Research's estimates up through the period where they terminate in December 2019. The analysts who founded Sentier Research after retiring from the U.S. Census Bureau went on to permanently retire in 2020. Sentier Research is no longer an operating entity.

The reference section below will take you to each source, including our most recent update that contains direct links to our source data and indicates the methodology we've used to create our estimates of median household income. If you're reading this article on our site, following the median household income label will take you to the latest posts where we've either presented or used the estimates we've generated in our various analyses.

References

Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Home Ownership Affordability Monitor (U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey One-Year Estimates of Median Household Income, Projected to Indicated Month by Atlanta Fed Staff using additional data produced by the Current Population Survey and Decennial Census). [Online Database]. Accessed 20 March 2022.

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: January 2000 through December 2019.  [Excel Spreadsheet with Nominal Median Household Incomes for January 2000 through January 2013 courtesy of Doug Short]. [PDF Document]. Accessed 6 February 2020. [Note: We've converted all data to be in terms of current (nominal) U.S. dollars.] Note: Sentier Research is no longer an operating entity, we've linked to the Internet Archive's copy of this final report.

Political Calculations. Median Household Income in January 2022. [Online Article]. 1 March 2022.

Affordability of New Homes in U.S. Resumes Decline in 2022

After breaking a long-running downtrend in December 2021, the question of whether that event marked a change in trend or was the result of noise in the data was raised. Housing data released by the U.S. Census Bureau last week points to noise as the answer to that question.

Combined with the latest median household income estimates, we find the raw affordability of the median new home sold in the U.S. reached an all-time low in January 2022. The following chart reveals that outcome:

Relative Affordability of New Home Prices | Annual: 1967-2020 | Monthly: December 2000 - January 2022

Median household income only covered 17.8% of the median new home sale price in January 2022. This represents the lowest level on record for this measure of raw affordability.

Meanwhile, mortgage rates rose to 3.45%, their highest level since the March 2020 arrival of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Thanks to that development, we find January 2022 saw the resumption of the rising trend for unaffordability established since the coronavirus recession bottomed in April 2020. The next chart confirms that result:

Mortgage Payment for a Median New Home as a Percentage of Median Household Income, January 2000 - January 2022

The average mortgage payment for a median new home sold in January 2022 would consume 30.6% of the income for the median American household. What's remarkable is that we're seeing that level with 30-year conventional mortgage rates still within 1% of their all-time low of 2.68% set back in December 2020. The last time we saw the identical level of affordability was in April 2019, when mortgage rates were at 4.14%.

Exit question: Between rising mortgage rates and rising home prices, which will have the bigger effect on new home affordability?

References

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 25 February 2022. 

U.S. Census Bureau. New Residential Sales Historical Data. Median and Average Sale Price of Houses Sold. [Excel Spreadsheet]. Accessed 25 February 2022. 

Freddie Mac. 30-Year Fixed Rate Mortgages Since 1971. [Online Database]. Accessed 25 February 2022.