Median Household Income*

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The income where half of households in a county earn more and half of households earn less. The 2024 Annual Data Release used data from 2022 & 2018-2022 for this measure.

Median Household Income is a well-recognized indicator of income, which impacts whether individuals and families experience poverty, which can negatively their physical and mental health.1,2 Median Household Income is strongly correlated with the Children in Poverty measure.

Find strategies to address Median Household Income*

Data and methods

Data Source

Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates; American Community Survey, 5-year estimates

The US Census Bureau, with support from other federal agencies, created the Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) program to provide more current estimates of selected income and poverty statistics than those from the most recent decennial census. The main objective of this program is to provide updated estimates of income and poverty statistics for the administration of federal programs and the allocation of federal funds to local jurisdictions. These estimates combine data from administrative records, intercensal population estimates, and the decennial census, along with direct estimates from the American Community Survey, to provide consistent and reliable single-year estimates. These model-based single-year estimates are more reflective of current conditions than multi-year survey estimates. At the county level, SAIPE provides estimates on children ages 5-17 in families in poverty, children under age 18 in poverty, all people in poverty, and median household income. Estimates are created for school districts, counties, and states.

The American Community Survey (ACS) is a nationwide survey designed to provide communities with a fresh look at how they are changing. It is a critical element in the Census Bureau's reengineered decennial census program. The ACS collects and produces population and housing information every year instead of every ten years, and publishes both one-year and five-year estimates. The County Health Rankings use American Community Survey data to obtain measures of social and economic factors.

Website to download data
For more detailed methodological information

Key Measure Methods

Median Household Income is a measure of central tendency

Median Household Income is the income where half of households in a county earn more and half of households earn less. Income, defined as “total income,” is the sum of the amounts reported separately for: wage or salary income; net self-employment income; interest, dividends, or net rental or royalty income or income from estates and trusts; Social Security or Railroad Retirement income; Supplemental Security Income (SSI); public assistance or welfare payments; retirement, survivor, or disability pensions; and all other income. Receipts from the following sources are not included as income: capital gains; money received from the sale of property (unless the recipient was engaged in the business of selling such property); the value of income “in kind” from food stamps, public housing subsidies, medical care, employer contributions for individuals, etc.; withdrawal of bank deposits; money borrowed; tax refunds; exchange of money between relatives living in the same household; and gifts and lump-sum inheritances, insurance payments, and other types of lump-sum receipts.

Median Household Income is created using statistical modeling

Median Household Income is based on one year of survey data and is created using complex statistical modeling. Modeling generates more stable estimates for places with small numbers of residents or survey responses. There are also drawbacks to using modeled data. The smaller the population or sample size of a county, the more the estimates are derived from the model itself and the less they are based on survey responses. Models make statistical assumptions about relationships that may not hold in all cases. Finally, there is no perfect model and each model generally has limitations specific to their methods.  

Median Household Income by race and ethnicity uses a different data source than overall county estimates

The Health Snapshots and downloadable datasets include Median Household Income for American Indian & Alaska Native, Asian, Black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white households. The race data come from the American Community Survey using combined five-year estimates.

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across states

Caution should be used when comparing SAIPE model-based estimates for different states or different counties in the same year. For more information please visit General Cautions About Comparing Estimates.

Caution should be used when comparing these estimates across years

Caution should be used when comparing SAIPE model-based estimates for different years. For more information please visit General Cautions About Comparing Estimates.

Can This Measure Be Used to Track Progress

This measure can be used to track progress with some caveats. Modeled estimates have specific drawbacks with regard to their usefulness in tracking progress in communities. Modeled data are not particularly good at incorporating the effects of local conditions, such as health promotion policies or unique population characteristics, into their estimates. Counties trying to measure the effects of programs and policies on the data should use great caution when using modeled estimates. In order to better understand and validate modeled estimates, confirming this data with additional sources of data at the local level is particularly valuable.

Finding More Data

Disaggregation means breaking data down into smaller, meaningful subgroups. Disaggregated data are often broken down by characteristics of people or where they live. Disaggregated data can reveal inequalities that are otherwise hidden. These data can be disaggregated by:

  • Age
  • Race
  • Subcounty Area

Median household income can be calculated by age, race, and subcounty geographies using American Community Survey data table B19013.


1 Galea S, Tracy M, Hoggatt KJ, DiMaggio C, Karpati A. Estimated deaths attributable to social factors in the United States. American Journal of Public Health. 2011;101(8):1456-1465.

2 McCarty AT. Child poverty in the United States: A tale of devastation and the promise of hope. Sociology Compass. 2016;10(7):623-639.