Average income in America
Category: Business and Money > Economics
Asked by: tonyrush-ga
List Price: $10.00
28 Sep 2006 09:35 PDT
Expires: 28 Oct 2006 09:35 PDT
Question ID: 769229
What is the average income in America for the most recent year for which data is available? Also, if you could, please make a distinction between "median" incomes and "average" incomes. Thank you!
Re: Average income in America
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 28 Sep 2006 10:01 PDT
tonyrush-ga, Your question is trickier than you might suppose, since income statistics are generally given as median figures, rather than as mean (average) figures. What's more, they tend to be presented as income by household, rather than by individual income. However, with a bit of digging, it's possible to tease out what you're after...average income numbers per person in the US. The Census Bureau is the main source of up-to-date statistics on income, and their most recent release of the 2005 data (made public just last month, in August 2006), can be seen here: http://pubdb3.census.gov/macro/032006/perinc/new01_001.htm Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years and Over by Total Money Income in 2005, Work Experience in 2005, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex [Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2006 Annual Social and Economic Supplement This table is chock full of different ways of slicing and dicing the income statistics by age, race, gender, income level, etc, but slightly more than half-way down in the document, you'll find these data for "All People": Median income -- $24,325 Mean income -- $35,499 Those are the data you're looking for. The "Mean Income" is the straightforward average...add everyone's income, and divide by the numer of people. The average income in the US (for people 15 and over) is $35,499. The "Median Income" is the midpoint of all incomes. If you listed out everyone's income in rank order, there would be an equal numer of incomes listed above and below the median income of $24,325. You can read a bit more about means and medians here: http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0001736.html I trust this information is exactly what you needed, but if there's anything else I can do for you, just let me know, and I'm at your service. pafalafa-ga search strategy -- Used bookmarked site for Census data.
Re: Average income in America
From: tr1234-ga on 28 Sep 2006 10:41 PDT
Just to add a little note about means and medians to pafalafa's excellent answer. It's very easy to calculate a mean and a median for a set of data, but it's not as often specified why one figure might be better than the other. This is more or less covered in the factmonster link provided, but it's such a basic point that I figure it's worth highlighting. Meidas, unlike means, are less influenced by excessively high or low data points. For many situations, then, medians are generally thought to be more representative of typical situations. Many times, when you see the word "median", if you replace it in your mind with "typical", then that usually can keep your thinking straight. A classic example to show what we're talking about would be something like this: Let's look at the salaries of 10 high school students a year after they graduate. Let's say 8 of them go on to college and don't take jobs so their salaries are zero. Let's say one takes an entry level job somewhere and makes $30,000/yr. And lets say that the last one turns out to be a sports prodigy and is signed to a professional contract that earns her 2 million dollars in the first year. The mean salary for these ten people would be $203,000/year The median salary for these ten people would be $0.00/year Obviously, neither figure gives a very good picture of the situation, but the median figure is far closer to what is typical for that particular group.
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