How Much Does the Average American Make? (+7 More Questions About Salaries)

Maria Pengue
By Maria Pengue
author

The US is the world’s largest economy and ranks first by disposable income per capita. However, calculating the average national earnings isn’t easy, especially since the numbers vary greatly depending on the state.

So, how much does the average American make, and what do the numbers depend on?

Below you can find the answer to this question and the most accurate figures to a few other popular inquiries regarding US salaries.

What Is the Average Salary in the US?

According to official US data, the quarterly average median salary in 2021 is estimated at $50,050 annually. Experts consider the median income to give the best insight into people’s earnings, as it isn’t affected by the extremes and accurately represents the middle-class.

Тhe highest average US income per person is in the 45 to 54 age group that has annual median earnings of $58,450.

35-to-44-year-old workers are another demographic with high annual median salaries of $57,450. People aged 55 to 64 are third with $57,050, followed by 25-to-34-year-olds with $46,750. The lowest median yearly income is the 16 to 19 age group, with $25,950.

1. How Much Does the Average American Make a Year?

(Oberlo, BLS, Statista)

The average US annual salary in 2020 was $83,886 before taxes and $74,166 after. A person’s earnings depend on multiple factors — profession, position, education, gender, race, and state.

For instance, the average salary in the US healthcare support sector is $32,250 annually, while protective service professionals earn about $52,220. The highest-paid occupation is managerial with a $126,480 average annual salary, and the lowest is food preparation and serving, with $27,650.

Analysis of the median income shows significant gender inequality in the US. The annual median salary is $55,000 for men and $45,800 for women in 2021. Estimations show that female employees receive about 83% of their male counterparts’ earnings.

2. How Much Does the Average American Make in a Month?

(Nerdwallet)

The exact monthly salary in the US can be challenging to estimate as the figure varies drastically depending on the educational attainment level of the employees.

For instance, the quarterly average median salary in the US per month in 2021 for a high school graduate is about $3,124, while people without a diploma make less than $2,500.

Americans with a bachelor’s degree have a median monthly salary of over $5,220, and those with a master’s — about $6,200. Further qualifications like a professional or doctoral degree bring a median monthly wage of over $7,500.

3. How Much Does the Average American Make an Hour?

(Statista)

US employees aged 16 or older have average hourly earnings of $11.19 in 2021. Some of these averages teenagers can earn through online jobs. Data shows that the figure has continuously decreased during the year — starting at $11.41 in January, it reached its lowest point in October. The summer months remained steady with a rate of about $11.23. 

Furthermore, the average hourly rate in October 2020 of $11.33 was higher than this year’s numbers.

4. How Much Does the Average American Make in a Lifetime?

(Pocket Your Dollars)

According to calculations, a person earns nearly $3 million before retiring. Even so, the sum greatly depends on occupation, education, gender, race, location, and other factors.

For example, female professionals tend to earn between $1 million and $1.5 million less. Research on average lifetime earnings shows that women have lower salaries than men and spend more time out of work for family reasons.

However, having a bachelor’s degree can add another $250,000 to $500,000 to the final sum. That said, a person in the US generally spends between 40% and 50% more than what they earn as living costs increase way faster than the minimum wage. The U.S. SBA reports that you need about $3,000 to start a microbusiness which means that there’s a good opportunity to become an entrepreneur even if you’re on a regular American salary.

5. Which State Has the Highest Average Income?

(World Population Review)

The states with the highest earnings have an average annual income of over $98,000. New Jersey is at the top of the list, with $114,691, followed by Connecticut and Massachusetts, with $113,031 and $111,498, respectively.

Other states with high average American income, going from $98,983 to $111,417, are Washington, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, Hawaii, California, and Maryland.

Contrarily, the lowest average annual earnings in 2021, of $62,835, are in Mississippi. West Virginia is ahead by a little, with an average salary of $63,680.

6. What Percent of Americans Make Over 100k?

(Statista)

Around 33.6% of US households make $100,000 or more annually. The most notable part of them, 15.3%, earn from $100,000 to $149,999, and 10.3% bring home over $200,000 a year. Conversely, 9.4% of US employees receive less than $15,000 annually.

An average US salary analysis shows that the highest number of households, 16.5%, earns between $50,000 and $74,999. The other significant groups with salaries from $35,000 to $49,999 and  $75,000 to $99,999 are 11.6% and 12.2% of households.

7. What Is a Good Average Salary in the US?

(InHerSight)

According to research, most people with wages close to their state average can pay for necessities and have some money to spare. The difficulty in determining a good national salary is that the cost of living isn’t the same in all states.

Most experts calculate the optimal average salary based on certain living conditions. For instance, personal debts, student loans, taxes, and dependents can make the average monthly income in any state insufficient.

Nonetheless, estimations show that an annual income of $75,000 could be considered a good one no matter the state. That should cover the essentials and leave enough for a comfortable life.

Conclusion

As you can see, the term average income encompasses a lot of things. It’s determined by education, age, gender, location, occupational field, and position. Furthermore, the average American salary isn’t the most accurate representation of the economy. 

In the US, the gap between the highest and lowest-paying jobs is so drastic that the median wage portrays better what a middle-class employee earns. What’s more, the differences between the average state salaries are quite significant.

While there isn’t a salary that would be perfect for everybody, in most cases, those close to the state average should have enough for all the essentials and a little extra.

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