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Average Income by Age plus Median, Top 1%, and All Income Percentiles

Written by:
PK

In this post are United States individual income brackets by age for 2021. You'll also find average income by age, median, and top 1% by age.

Individual incomes here are limited to Americans who worked (or wanted to work) in full-year 2020. Incomes are gross (pre-tax) – and earned between January and December 2020.

If you missed them: we also have research on household incomes and individual incomes.

Individual Income Benchmarks by Age in 2021

2021 Income by Age, Median, Average, 1%
2021 Selected Income Percentile and Average by Age Group

Age is an excellent way to break down income comparisons – it's a great quick proxy for experience. While it's not always true, generally older folks will have more experience in a given field.

(Of course, you can think of the exceptions: career switching, job loss, and so on.)

And – like with other breakdowns of the population – the best summary statistics of income are:

  • Median income
  • Average income
  • Top 1% income

What is the median individual income by age in the United States?

These are the median incomes by age for 2021 in the United States for some selected ages:

  • Age 25: $34,371.00
  • Age 35: $50,001.00
  • Age 45: $54,001.00
  • Age 55: $52,000.00
  • Age 65: $54,299.00

This following table has every age (18-75) plus median income in 2021 in the United States:

AgeMedian Income
16$1,729.00
17$3,000.00
18$5,053.00
19$10,569.00
20$14,087.00
21$17,000.00
22$20,001.00
23$24,000.00
24$28,400.00
25$34,371.00
26$35,000.00
27$40,000.00
28$39,005.00
29$41,085.00
30$40,560.00
31$45,000.00
32$45,330.00
33$49,033.00
34$48,200.00
35$50,001.00
36$50,879.00
37$50,022.00
38$50,000.00
39$50,000.00
40$53,210.00
41$52,400.00
42$50,501.00
43$53,000.00
44$52,005.00
45$54,001.00
46$54,000.00
47$55,002.00
48$50,000.00
49$52,001.00
50$56,001.00
51$54,012.00
52$55,432.00
53$55,100.00
54$55,010.00
55$52,000.00
56$55,940.00
57$55,002.00
58$54,007.00
59$54,005.00
60$51,861.00
61$52,001.00
62$52,006.00
63$52,300.00
64$51,051.00
65$54,299.00
66$53,385.00
67$67,189.00
68$55,051.00
69$58,002.00
70$54,904.00
71$51,335.00
72$59,289.00
73$52,480.00
74$52,761.00
75$49,235.00

What is the average income by age in the United States?

Here are the 2021 average incomes by age for age 25 and ten year intervals:

  • Age 25: $41,461.27
  • Age 35: $66,320.38
  • Age 45: $79,101.10
  • Age 55: $77,308.78
  • Age 65: $74,420.36

This table has every age (18-75) plus average income in 2021:

AgeAverage Income
16$5,821.30
17$6,760.37
18$9,725.23
19$15,062.78
20$18,513.14
21$20,712.18
22$24,447.43
23$29,814.28
24$33,164.56
25$41,461.27
26$43,945.65
27$48,376.91
28$47,399.65
29$51,638.49
30$52,706.53
31$59,068.01
32$58,708.88
33$59,082.00
34$60,506.92
35$66,320.38
36$68,082.22
37$69,128.48
38$66,746.23
39$70,235.80
40$72,731.18
41$77,143.30
42$71,286.43
43$83,279.50
44$74,478.19
45$79,101.10
46$75,233.96
47$78,354.08
48$68,728.45
49$75,458.16
50$81,711.22
51$75,777.31
52$80,279.55
53$80,802.58
54$77,406.45
55$77,308.78
56$76,857.49
57$78,139.14
58$73,165.04
59$78,624.85
60$73,392.66
61$77,592.46
62$77,624.55
63$77,189.64
64$73,604.15
65$74,420.36
66$79,289.75
67$93,445.14
68$84,150.09
69$82,464.49
70$76,164.60
71$76,744.71
72$98,444.27
73$92,254.10
74$70,337.44
75$70,820.15

What is the top 1% individual income by age in the United States?

Here are the summary top 1% income benchmarks starting at 25 years old and moving up a decade at a time:

  • Age 25: $180,210.00
  • Age 35: $393,001.00
  • Age 45: $376,768.00
  • Age 55: $500,160.00
  • Age 65: $279,005.00

Treat this data with more skepticism than the median and average (just look at age 43 and 65 – can't be perfectly accurate).

There are fewer high earners by definition, so the numbers will jump around. Before you take a single age's measure as "truth", maybe look at a couple adjacent ages for a good feel of what the "actual" 1% might be.

That in mind, here is the chart for top 1% income by age in the United States in 2021:

AgeTop 1%
16$79,255.00
17$66,000.00
18$55,105.00
19$80,000.00
20$100,013.00
21$83,061.00
22$100,310.00
23$120,000.00
24$150,000.00
25$180,210.00
26$176,010.00
27$202,002.00
28$191,422.00
29$205,002.00
30$230,410.00
31$301,120.00
32$291,919.00
33$270,000.00
34$271,219.00
35$393,001.00
36$351,825.00
37$376,390.00
38$354,040.00
39$397,000.00
40$362,820.00
41$462,350.00
42$435,124.00
43$810,001.00
44$376,768.00
45$532,022.00
46$401,749.00
47$445,400.00
48$315,003.00
49$375,060.00
50$500,101.00
51$435,830.00
52$400,990.00
53$414,005.00
54$402,695.00
55$500,160.00
56$403,576.00
57$450,024.00
58$360,252.00
59$456,414.00
60$379,440.00
61$458,513.00
62$402,180.00
63$423,180.00
64$367,395.00
65$279,005.00
66$448,000.00
67$600,007.00
68$435,870.00
69$543,216.00
70$365,965.00
71$430,035.00
72$829,265.00
73$866,002.00
74$359,000.00
75$313,798.00

United States Individual Income Percentiles by Age

Income is all income earned by one individual. That includes:

  • Wage income or earnings
  • Business income
  • Investment income
  • Interest
  • Other income (see the list of all components here)

If you only want to see salary, we have salary by age research too (and a calculator).

Methodology on 2021 United States Age & Income Brackets

This data comes from the United States Census Bureau's Annual ASEC survey. It was released in September 2021.

I then use harmonized data from the University of Minnesota's Minnesota Population Center in R. Citation:

Sarah Flood, Miriam King, Renae Rodgers, Steven Ruggles, J. Robert Warren and Michael Westberry. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 9.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 2021. https://doi.org/10.18128/D030.V9.0

What is your 'worker' screen?

Find the full worker screen methodology in the individual income brackets post.

How is the data quality on the income by age data?

I ask, as always, that you be skeptical of the top few percentiles for each age.

Income is relatively well-behaved for the majority of the income curve. However, people at the top generate income from income sources with more volatility: investments, businesses, etc. The entire individual income data comes from a relatively small selection of samples.

To get a sense of the "actual top 1% income" for an age, look at the surrounding years to get a better feel for the data.

Income data points and workers by age in 2021

Here's the exhaustive list of data points and the workers they represent for you to make a reasoned call on data quality by age. There are two numbers:

  • The samples or number of "data points", the actual number of people in the survey
  • The estimated workforce that those data points represent (based on the survey weightings)
AgeSamplesEstimated Workers
16613           1,010,126
17960           1,649,640
181175           2,062,816
191270           2,512,559
201265           2,877,270
211289           3,060,056
221311           3,208,441
231395           3,445,450
241409           3,510,674
251550           3,685,529
261630           3,991,022
271588           3,743,399
281721           4,064,862
291785           4,079,416
301924           4,159,467
311853           3,853,418
321914           3,977,058
331918           3,896,840
341886           3,674,741
352006           3,827,866
362037           3,737,026
371992           3,549,878
382037           3,759,500
391968           3,626,247
402041           3,721,650
411954           3,590,426
421938           3,520,633
431796           3,230,802
441820           3,319,595
451739           3,321,653
461786           3,355,569
471737           3,343,052
481679           3,235,051
491684           3,324,704
501893           3,730,351
511738           3,443,068
521667           3,358,670
531553           3,168,201
541462           3,031,664
551550           3,181,532
561510           3,202,098
571533           3,292,976
581435           3,116,703
591411           3,038,952
601421           3,051,827
611367           2,995,617
621257           2,681,110
631141           2,510,928
641060           2,339,539
65843           1,825,704
66806           1,768,355
67652           1,418,165
68578           1,278,377
69480           1,058,020
70483              954,115
71371              761,333
72338              667,242
73284              548,574
74240              450,458
75220              481,846

Is individual income gross or net?

All income by age numbers in this post are gross income, or before tax. If you are comparing an income make sure it is before any tax is taken out.

Analysis of Individual Income by Age Brackets in 2021

This is one of my favorite ways to slice income data. But like the others, it suffers in its complexity. A better way to consume it might be through the companion income percentile by age calculator.

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