Unexpectedly Intriguing!
December 1, 2017

Median household income in the U.S. rose to to $58,643 in October 2017, an increase of 0.2% from our September 2017 estimate of $58,523. The following chart shows our estimates for the trends for both nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted median household income (blue) from January 2000 through October 2017.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Estimates, January 2000 to October 2017

In nominal terms, the most recent trend for median household income in the U.S. continues to rise steadily as it has throughout 2017, after having been flat in the latter half of 2016.

After adjusting the nominal household income estimates to be in terms of constant October 2017 U.S. dollars however, we find an uptick in median household income, which coincides with a deceleration in the rate of inflation in October 2017. That result is somewhat surprising because oil prices generally rose during October 2017, where increases in oil prices had coincided with a faster pace of inflation in the two previous months.

The methodology for the approach we've developed to generate these median household income estimates is described here. In generating inflation-adjusted portion of the Median Household Income in the 21st Century chart above, we've used the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) to adjust the nominal median household income estimates for inflation, so that they are expressed in terms of the U.S. dollars for the month for which we're reporting the newest income data.

Notes

For the just released personal income data, the BEA revised the figures for the previous six months from their previously reported levels, which we've updated in this month's chart. As in previous months (or at least since June 2017 when we began posting our monthly estimates of median household income, the magnitude of the revisions continue to be tiny (on the order of +/-0.04%), with minimal impact to our estimates from one month to the next.

Data Sources

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: 30 November 2017. Accessed: 30 November 2017.

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: 30 November 2017. Accessed: 30 November 2017.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers: All Items, Monthly, Not Seasonally Adjusted. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 15 November 2017. Accessed: 30 November 2017.

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