Median Household Income by State: A New Look at the Data

The Census Bureau's annual household income report for 2015 was published last month. We've now compiled a few tables for the 50 states and DC based on the Current Population Survey, a joint undertaking of the Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics, which includes annual data from 1984 to 2014. The details are fascinating.

First, some context. The median US income in 2015 was $56,516, up from $22,415 in 1984 — a 152% rise over the 32-year time frame. However, if we adjust for inflation chained in 2015 dollars, the 1984 median is $48,720, and the increase drops to 16%.

Peak Income Years

The peak annual median income for the US, adjusted for inflation, was in 1999. The latest data point, fifteen years later — after two recessions and two market crashes — is down 2.4%, which is a significant improvement over the 7.2% decline as of the previous year. Here is an alphabetically sorted table showing the data for the 50 states and DC along with the US median data.

The alphabetical listing above makes it easy to find individual states, but for some additional insight, let's sort the data based on the decline from the peak year.

The median household incomes in 9 states plus DC have fared better than the US median as measured by the real percent declines from their respective peak years. A total of 41 states have suffered greater declines, with six states dropping more than 15%. Kentucky is the biggest loser, down 19.5% since its real median income peak in 1998.