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The median household income in America reached $61,937 in 2018, according to U.S. Census data. But in different areas across the U.S., median income varies widely depending on a variety of factors.
For this analysis, we elected to look at data on median household income — rather than average household income — from the U.S. Census Bureau. Median figures can give a more accurate picture of income since averages can be skewed by outliers — i.e., households that make much more or much less than the majority of American households.
When it comes to median income by location, our analysis found that households in the Washington, D.C., area are at the top of the list. It was almost double that of households in West Virginia, the state with the lowest median household income in 2018, according to the 2018 Household Income report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
And the divide between metropolitan areas was similar. When looking at the 25 most populous metro areas, households in California’s San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area earned twice as much in 2018 as those in Florida’s Tampa-St. Petersburg area. (Learn about our methodology.)
Median household income doesn’t just vary based on where you live — there can also be big gaps in pay based on gender and age. Read on to learn more about the median American income and how you compare.
Want to know more?
- Key findings
- The states with the highest and lowest median household income
- Median household income by metro area
- How income can differ between gender and age
|Median household income in America was $61,937 in 2018 based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Household Income report.|
|At the state level (including the District of Columbia), households in Washington, D.C., had the highest median income in 2018 at $85,203, with Maryland coming in a close second at $83,242. Median household income in D.C. was nearly twice as high as it was in West Virginia, where households pulled in a median income of $44,097 last year.|
|Among the 25 most populous metropolitan areas, households in the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area in 2018 earned a median income of $107,898 — nearly double what households earned in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area ($54,912) in 2018.|
|According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey, median income for women working full-time was 74 cents compared to every dollar of median income for men working full-time.|
|At $75,289, workers ages 45 to 64 had the highest median household earnings in 2018, compared with $33,389 for those under 25 and $44,992 for those 65 and older, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Household Income report.|
If you’re looking for a high salary, D.C. or Maryland may be the place for you. The U.S. Census Bureau Household Income report shows that these states had the highest median household income in 2018. In fact, D.C.’s median household income was around 38% higher than the national median income that year.
The table below shows the 10 states, including the District of Columbia, with the highest median household income.
The 10 states with the highest median household income (including Washington, D.C.)
|Rank||State||2018 median household income|
|1||District of Columbia||$85,203|
On the other end of the spectrum, West Virginia had the lowest median household income — at $44,097. But even though median income there might seem low compared to places like D.C., West Virginians have the lowest debt-to-income ratio in the nation, whereas D.C. has the highest, according to 2017 data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Census Bureau.
A higher cost-of-living and DTI ratio in the D.C. area likely means households need higher wages to get by, whereas West Virginia seems to be managing debt just fine with a lower median household income.
Here are the 10 states with the lowest median household income in 2018, according to the Census Bureau report.
The 10 states with the lowest median household income
|Rank||State||2018 median household income|
As you might expect, wages in some cities are higher than the wages in other cities.
Looking at the 25 most populous metro areas in the U.S., Northern California’s San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward area — home to many jobs in the tech industry — sits at the top of the list when it comes to median household income, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Household Income report. Households there earn a median income in the six figures that in 2018 was almost 75% higher than the U.S. median household income.
Other top metro areas on the list include the areas surrounding D.C., Boston and Seattle.
Median household income in the 25 most populous metro areas, listed highest to lowest
|Metropolitan area||2018 median household income|
|San Francisco–Oakland–Hayward, CA||$107,898|
|Minneapolis–St. Paul–Bloomington, MN-WI||$79,578|
|San Diego–Carlsbad, CA||$79,079|
|New York–Newark–Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$78,478|
|Los Angeles–Long Beach–Anaheim, CA||$72,563|
|Atlanta–Sandy Springs–Roswell, GA||$69,464|
|Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington, TX||$69,445|
|Riverside–San Bernardino–Ontario, CA||$65,671|
|Houston–The Woodlands–Sugar Land, TX||$65,394|
|St. Louis, MO-IL||$62,790|
|San Antonio–New Braunfels, TX||$57,379|
|Miami–Fort Lauderdale–West Palm Beach, FL||$56,328|
|Tampa-St. Petersburg–Clearwater, FL||$54,912|
Just as there are big differences in median income based on location, Census Bureau data also shows that income can vary widely based on gender and age.
For example, in 2017 women working full time earned a median $35,414, while men working full time earned $48,199, according to the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey. That means in 2017 women were earning 74 cents for every dollar men earned. The Census Bureau hasn’t yet released numbers for 2018.
Though you might be surprised that the gender pay gap is so wide, it may be less surprising that age matters when it comes to median income. After all, your first job out of school probably doesn’t pay what you’re earning after a few promotions.
We found that when it comes to age, there’s a big difference in median income depending on whether someone is still in school, midcareer, nearing retirement or enjoying their golden years. According to 2018 data from the U.S. Census Bureau, those ages 45 to 64 are in their peak earning years and make a median income that is 125% more than those under 25.
The table below shows average household income by age in 2018, according to the report.
Median household income by age
|Age||2018 median household income|
|65 and older||$44,992|
To conduct this analysis, we studied data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 Household Income report to compare median household income for the U.S. as a whole as well as by state, metropolitan area and age. For median household income by gender, we pulled U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey data from 2017.