Household income is an economic measure that can be applied to one household, or aggregated across a large group such as a county, city, or the whole country. It is commonly used by the United States government and private institutions to describe a household’s economic status or to track economic trends in the US.
One key measure is the real median level, meaning half of households have income above that level and half below, adjusted for inflation. According to the Census, this measure was $59,039 in 2016, a record high. This was the largest two year percentage increase on record.
The distribution of U.S. household income has become more unequal since around 1980, with the income share received by the top 1% trending upward from around 10% or less over the 1953–1981 period to over 20% by 2007. After falling somewhat due to the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009, inequality rose again during the economic recovery, a typical pattern historically.
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