Home / Economy / Articles / Median income and earnings rise in 2018, while poverty rates drop, Census data shows

The median household income in the United States increased less than a percent from 2017 to 2018, while the median earnings of workers in the United States rose 3.4%.

The data, released by the Census Bureau Tuesday, also shows that the official poverty rate in the United States dropped to 11.8%, a 0.5 percentage point decrease from 2017.

We looked into the data.

Household income

The median household income in the United States rose, from $62,626 in 2017 to $63,179 in 2018 adjusted for inflation. The Census Bureau does not consider the 0.9% rise to be statistically significant.

Median household income (adjusted to 2018 dollars)

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A few demographic groups did experience significant increases in median household income. The family household median rose 1.2% while the nonfamily household median rose 2.4%. The median income for an Asian-American household grew 4.6% while the median for those living in the Northeast increased 4.3%.

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The median earnings for all workers (full- and part-time) increased 3.4% from 2017 ($38,915) to 2018 ($40,247).

Men saw an uptick of 1.2% from from $46,166 to $46,741, while women stayed flat from $32,664 to $32,654.

For full-time workers, earnings dropped 0.6% from $50,968 to $50,653. Despite this, the median for full-time workers broken down by men and women increased. The median for men increased 3.4% from $53,459 to $55,291.

The median for women grew from $43,658 to $45,097. As a result of these changes, the female-to-male earnings ratio (full-time workers only) fell slightly from women earning 81.7 cents for every dollar for a man to 81.6 cents.

Median earnings by sex (adjusted to 2018 dollars)

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The official poverty rate fell to 11.8% in 2018 from 12.3% in 2017. That’s the fourth consecutive year showing a decrease, with the Census Bureau also noting that “In 2018, for the first time in 11 years, the official poverty rate was significantly lower than 2007, the year before the most recent recession.”

The most significant drops in poverty rates came for families with children and an unmarried female head householder. Those familes saw a poverty rate drop of 2.5 percentage points from 41.6% in 2017 to 39.1% in 2018. Families headed by unmarried women, regardless of children, have the highest poverty rate of household types at 26.8%.

The poverty rate for individual children fell 1.2 percentage points from 17.4% in 2017 to 16.2% in 2018. For those living in the principal cities in Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs), the poverty rate also dropped 1.2 percentage points from 15.8% to 14.6%.

NOTE: The Census Bureau uses calculations from the Office of Management and Budget to measure the official poverty rate.

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Census Bureau