Household Incomes: The Decline of the "Middle Class" 2022 Update

The median household is the statistical center of the Middle Class. Let's take a closer look at the Census Bureau's latest annual household income data, issued earlier this month, with a focus on middle class income.

In this update, we'll focus on the growing gap between the median (middle) and mean (average) household incomes across the complete time frame of the Census Bureau's annual reporting, which began in 1967, to the release of the annual data for 2022. Here is a snapshot the clearly illustrates the growing gap between the middle household and the average, which has been increasingly skewed higher by the more rapid income growth of higher income households.

Nominal Household Incomes Median-Mean

For a more realistic sense of the median-mean gap, here is the same chart adjusted for inflation based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Price Index-Research Series (which we discuss in more detail here). Among other things, we see that the 2022 average income is just below the all-time highs in both in the median and mean series that were reached in 2019.

Real Household Incomes Median-Mean