Unexpectedly Intriguing!
February 8, 2019

Sentier Research has issued their estimate of median household income in the United States for December 2018, finding the typical income earned by an American household was $63,517 for the month, slightly down from the firm's initial estimate of $63,554 for November 2018. Sentier's revised, inflation-adjusted estimate for November 2018 is $63,518, where they describe their initial estimate for December's median household income as unchanged.

The following chart shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through December 2018, where the newest nominal data point shows up as the first month-over-month dip after a long uninterrupted upward trend that began in December 2017. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant December 2018 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Estimates, January 2000 to December 2018

Meanwhile, the year-over-year growth rate of median household income has continued at near record-highs.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Year Over Year Growth Rate, January 2001 to December 2018

With that final estimate, 2018 proved to be one the best years ever for income gains for typical American households.

Analyst's Notes

The partial government shutdown has impacted our ability to develop an estimate of median household income using our alternate methodology, where the data we use won't be available until 28 February 2019.

In generating inflation-adjusted portion of the Median Household Income in the 21st Century chart and the corresponding year-over-year growth rate 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.

References

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: January 2000 through May 2017, March 2018 through December 2018. [Excel Spreadsheet with Nominal Median Household Incomes for January 2000 through January 2013 courtesy of Doug Short]. [PDF Document]. Accessed 5 February 2019. [Note: We've converted all data to be in terms of current (nominal) U.S. dollars to develop the analysis presented in this series.]

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: 11 January 2019.




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