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04 June 2019

Median household income in the United States rose to a new nominal record high of $64,016 in April 2019, a 0.9% increase from Sentier Research's March 2019 estimate of $63,425.

The following chart shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through April 2019. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant April 2019 U.S. dollars.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Nominal and Real Estimates, January 2000 to April 2019

The year-over-year growth rate for median household income in the U.S. showed a small rebound in April 2019, rising to 4.1% from 3.4% in the previous month in nominal terms, which is shown as the red line in the following chart. After adjusting for inflation, that change corresponds to an increase to 2.1% from March 2019's 1.7% "real" growth rate.

Median Household Income in the 21st Century: Year Over Year Growth Rate, January 2001 to April 2019

Overall, the positive acceleration in median household income in April 2019 reverses what had been a trend of deceleration that began in late 2018, as the U.S. economy seemed to hit a speed bump during the last quarter of that year.

Analyst's Notes

Our alternate methodology for estimating median household income from data reported by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis would put the figure at $63,949 for April 2019, which is within 0.1% of Sentier Research's estimate for the month.

More significantly however, the BEA has posted a significant revision of its aggregate personal income data going back to October 2018, which captures the downdraft Sentier Research's survey-based estimates have been signalling. The following chart shows how aggregate received wage and salary dispersements changed from what the BEA previously reported on 29 April 2019 to what it just reported on 30 May 2019.

Aggregate Received Wage and Salary Dispersements, January 2018 to April 2019, Previously Reported 29 April 2019 Data versus Revised 30 May 2019 Data

The 30 May 2019 revision is one of the largest we've seen since we began tracking this data last year, where it is comparable in magnitude with what we've seen in larger scale annual revisions. The next annual revision to this data series will be published sometime in July-August 2019.

References

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. Our data sources and other references are provided in the following list.

Sentier Research. Household Income Trends: January 2000 through March 2019.  [Excel Spreadsheet with Nominal Median Household Incomes for January 2000 through January 2013 courtesy of Doug Short]. [PDF Document]. Accessed 30 May 2019. [Note: We've converted all data to be in terms of current (nominal) U.S. dollars.] 

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 April 2019. Accessed: 10 April 2019.

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. [PDF Document, Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 30 May 2019.

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. [PDF Document, Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 30 May 2019.

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