By Chris Wilson and David Johnson
September 29, 2014

The latest Census data on American incomes drove home a troubling fact: people aren’t making as much as they once did. The median household income in the United States in 2013 was $51,939, down 8 percent from 2007 when adjusted for inflation. Though the recession technically ended several years ago, large numbers of people continue to suffer from flat wages and rising prices.

But while the middle class continues to suffer, many slices of the population are doing better. Using individual-level Census data for 2008 to 2012—15 million records in total—TIME crunched the numbers for every demographic by gender, age, education and marital status.

The following calculator will tell you how your salary stacks up and how that’s changed over time. (The information you enter is not recorded. In fact, it never leaves your computer.)

These charts show individual personal income—money respondents received from any source—and only include people who worked full-time in a given year. (While unemployment was a tremendous scourge during the recession and its aftermath, including it here would confound an analysis of how income has changed.)

Since 2008, incomes have increased by 5.1 percent among all surveyed, while inflation rate over that time was 6.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic figures. (In other words, if your income increased by less than 6.6 percent, you lost purchasing power over that period.) But not all groups are falling behind. Married women between ages 41-50 with professional degrees saw a 16.6 percent growth in income over the past five years, the largest gain of any subset of the population for which there were at least 1000 respondents in the data. At the opposite end of the spectrum, men between 22 and 25 with some college education but no degree saw their income fall by 16.7 percent.


Women are recovering from the recession slightly faster than men, though men make considerably more overall.

2008 2012 Change
Women $31,000 $32,500 4.8%
Men $43,000 $46,000 4.7%


Americans in their 20s saw the highest cut to their salaries since 2008.

2008 2012 Change
18-21 $12,200 $12,000 -1.6%
22-25 $23,000 $21,000 -8.7%
26-30 $32,000 $32,000 0%
30-35 $38,000 $39,500 3.9%
36-40 $41,000 $42,100 2.7%
41-50 $43,000 $45,000 4.7%
51-64 $45,000 $46,000 2.2%
65+ $41,400 $46,000 11.1%


Those with less education have recovered the slowest, if at all.

2008 2012 Change
Less than high school $23,000 $22,300 -3%
High school or equivalent $30,000 $30,000 0%
Some college, no degree $33,200 $33,000 -0.6%
Associates $40,000 $40,000 0%
Bachelors $50,000 $53,000 6%
Masters $65,000 $69,000 6.2%
Professional degree $100,000 $102,100 2.1%
Doctorate $88,000 $90,000 2.3%

Marital Status

Single Americans are generally younger than other demographics shown here. This is consistent with median income changes by age.

2008 2012 Change
Single (never Married) $26,400 $26,200 -0.8%
Married $43,000 $45,000 4.7%
Separated or Divorced $37,000 $38,300 3.5%
Widowed $34,000 $36,400 7.1%


The inputs for the calculator are determined by Census categories for gender, age, educational attainment, and marital status. The data was extracted from the Integrated Public Use Microdata Series project (full citation below). IPUMS aggregates individual-level responses from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, an annual sampling of 1 percent of the population. The complete codebook for the extract, which can be used to recreate the complete dataset, is available here.

The analysis is limited to those who were at least 18 years old and coded as a “5” or a “6” in the WKSWORK2 column, meaning they worked at least 48 weeks of the previous 12 months. To allow for a sufficient sample size, individual years of age were bucketed into the ranges displayed in the interactive. Some similar educational levels and marital statuses were also combined.

Once the data was bucketed and grouped by unique combinations of demographic traits—married women from 51-64 with an associate’s degree, for example—we took the median of all of their incomes. This involved first accounting for the fact that not every person has equal weight in the sample. IPUMS provides a PERWT variable. After adding each person to the pool a number of times equal to his or her statistical weight, we took the median of the pooled values. In almost all cases, this “weighted median” was very similar to a naïve median calculated by considering each respondent to have equal weight.

Figures were then spot checked by replicating this process from the raw data in two different computational platforms, R and Mathematica. Any subpopulation with fewer than 50 respondents is not included.


Miriam King, Steven Ruggles, J. Trent Alexander, Sarah Flood, Katie Genadek, Matthew B. Schroeder, Brandon Trampe, and Rebecca Vick. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 3.0. [Machine-readable database]. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010.

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