How much does the average American make? The answer isn’t straightforward, and changes based on age, gender, race and other demographics. Keep reading for the most up-to-date income data.
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How Much Does the Average American Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median weekly earnings for full-time workers in the fourth quarter of 2022 was $1,085. This was measured based on the earnings of 118.8 million full-time wage and salary workers.
Approximately 35% of U.S. households make over $100,000 per year, as reported by IBISWorld. However, a household may include more than one earner, so this doesn’t necessarily give an accurate representation of the average American income. In order to be in the top 10% income bracket in the U.S., you would need to make at least $132,676 per year, according to 2022 data.
Compared to the year before, the statistics show a 7.4% increase in median income. But as pay has risen, so has inflation. Since income and inflation rates don’t tend to match, many Americans have struggled as prices for groceries, utilities, housing and more have continued to rise.
Pay raises have also increased from the average 3% raise to 4.8%. However, wage increases are expected to decrease to 4% for 2023, according to Pearl Meyer’s survey on executive pay practices. While this is still higher than average, it could lead to more financial difficulties when paired with the effects of inflation.
U.S. Income by Demographic
While the median income gives a general representation of the nation’s income, it’s not accurate for everyone. Age, gender, race and occupation all affect median earnings for Americans.
Income by Age and Gender
The chart below shows the median weekly income in 2022 for individuals by age and gender.
|16 years and over||$1,176||$975|
|16 to 24 years||$744||$694|
|25 years and over||$1,238||$1,010|
The gender pay gap varies greatly by race:
- Asian women earned 81.5% of their male counterparts’ income.
- Black women earned 90% of their male counterparts’ income.
- Hispanic women earned 86.5% of their male counterparts’ income.
- White women earned 83% of their male counterparts’ income.
Women were one of the groups most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Women experienced less income security, since restrictions either shut down or greatly reduced some of the sectors most occupied by women. In addition, women often faced greater family duties as restrictions forced kids to stay home.
Government entities and other organizations are working to close the gender pay gap by proposing laws that would require transparency and information sharing to identify potential pay differences.
Income by Race
The median income of Americans by race is as follows:
- Asian Americans — $1,496 per week
- Black Americans — $896 per week
- Hispanic Americans — $837 per week
- White Americans — $1,111 per week
Black and Hispanic Americans earn less than white and Asian Americans. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Black men made only 79.6% of the median for white men, while Hispanic men made only 75% of the median for white men. Meanwhile, Asian men and women made more than their white counterparts.
In addition to the racial income gap, there is also a large racial wealth gap. While white American families had a median wealth of $184,000 in 2019, Hispanic and Black American families had a median wealth of $38,000 and $23,000, respectively.
Wealth is often accumulated by having steady income, buying homes and having other financial assets. Therefore, some proposed policies to address this issue include tightening regulation surrounding discrimination in housing and increasing access to investment opportunities.
Income by Occupation
Occupation also has an impact on median weekly earnings. The highest-paying occupations are in management, professional and related occupations, where men and women make a median weekly income of $1,729 and $1,316, respectively. On the other hand, the lowest-paying occupations are in the service industry, where men and women make $782 and $652, respectively.
Unfortunately, opportunities for higher-paying careers are not as prevalent for individuals who have been given unequal educational opportunities. Schools that serve low-income students tend to have lower budgets and lack the resources that are needed to give high-quality education.
Throughout the pandemic, these issues were exacerbated by online schooling, which made it difficult for students to get the education they would inside a classroom. Even after pandemic restrictions were lifted, many public schools are still struggling with staffing issues and chronically-absent students. Educational inequality, especially in low-income communities, must be reduced to give all Americans a fair shot at earning a high-paying occupation.
What Is a Good Income?
There is no one answer for what makes a good income. It is a highly personal amount based on cost of living, debt and financial goals. In addition, take into account your occupation and qualifications to ensure you’re getting a fair wage.
If you want to make more money, learn to negotiate wage increases or start a side hustle. You could also cut down on expenses and find a budgeting method that works for you.