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Individual Income by Year: Average, Median, One Percent, and a Percentile Calculator

Written by:
PK

On this page is the United States average individual income by year and median individual income by year between 1962 and 2020. You'll also find the top 1% individual income by year between 1996 and 2020, as well as the top 5% and 10%.

You'll also find an income by year calculator just below so you can compare two years, with or without inflation adjustments.

After: You can find the household income by year research here.

Individual Income Percentile by Year Calculator

Note: Incomes are earned in the full calendar year before (Jan - Dec) the survey year. Be sure to read the methodology if you use inflation-adjustments.

Individual Income Percentile Statistics from 1962-2020

This graph summarizes the average, median, top 1%, top 5%, and top 10% individual income by year from 1962-2020.

1962-2020 Inflation Adjusted Individual Income
1962-2020 Non Inflation Adjusted Individual Income

Top 1% is a tricky one – aggressive top-coding (and no methodology to repopulate data) means our data isn't immediately useful in raw form before 1996. See the notes below for more.

Median Individual Income by Year

This table shows the median individual income per year in the United States back to 1962.

YearMedian Household IncomeInflation Adjusted (2020)
1962$3,000.00$25,726.26
1963$3,000.00$25,441.99
1964$3,200.00$26,695.65
1965$3,360.00$27,729.03
1966$3,500.00$28,425.93
1967$3,640.00$28,801.03
1968$4,000.00$30,700.00
1969$4,160.00$30,553.11
1970$4,550.00$31,746.59
1971$4,839.00$31,879.25
1972$5,000.00$31,584.36
1973$5,356.00$32,754.82
1974$5,720.00$32,884.64
1975$6,000.00$31,114.86
1976$6,617.00$31,446.11
1977$7,000.00$31,418.13
1978$7,500.00$31,627.75
1979$8,216.00$32,254.63
1980$9,365.00$32,970.81
1981$10,041.00$31,137.24
1982$10,804.00$30,373.88
1983$11,250.00$29,825.13
1984$12,000.00$30,802.68
1985$12,619.00$31,041.93
1986$13,450.00$31,959.37
1987$14,100.00$32,892.86
1988$15,002.00$33,765.50
1989$16,000.00$34,591.55
1990$17,000.00$35,073.92
1991$17,615.00$34,444.62
1992$18,000.00$33,777.51
1993$18,500.00$33,726.25
1994$18,720.00$33,143.25
1995$19,502.00$33,635.47
1996$20,109.00$33,734.77
1997$21,026.00$34,262.11
1998$22,126.00$35,268.34
1999$24,000.00$37,668.71
2000$25,000.00$38,375.00
2001$25,610.00$38,018.71
2002$26,400.00$38,122.30
2003$27,000.00$38,375.00
2004$28,000.00$38,931.16
2005$28,300.00$38,307.32
2006$30,000.00$39,291.81
2007$30,005.00$38,064.19
2008$31,200.00$38,467.47
2009$31,100.00$36,949.30
2010$30,324.00$36,167.32
2011$31,024.00$36,380.32
2012$32,000.00$36,385.19
2013$32,202.00$35,896.93
2014$34,000.00$37,305.22
2015$35,000.00$37,834.51
2016$36,000.00$38,643.36
2017$38,000.00$40,506.94
2018$39,632.00$41,356.30
2019$40,105.00$40,850.15
2020$43,894.00$43,894.00

Average Individual Income by Year

This table includes the average individual income per year in the United States, including both inflation adjusted and nominal numbers.

YearAverage Individual IncomeInflation Adjusted (2020)
1962$3,712.21$31,833.76
1963$3,710.28$31,465.63
1964$3,947.73$32,933.51
1965$4,122.17$34,018.98
1966$4,273.35$34,706.84
1967$4,527.12$35,820.25
1968$4,786.80$36,738.69
1969$5,168.12$37,957.24
1970$5,662.60$39,509.50
1971$5,966.75$39,308.85
1972$6,243.11$39,436.93
1973$6,795.55$41,558.44
1974$7,266.60$41,776.15
1975$7,653.08$39,687.43
1976$8,345.41$39,660.08
1977$8,892.23$39,911.03
1978$9,590.82$40,444.80
1979$10,507.27$41,249.77
1980$11,656.52$41,038.44
1981$12,530.93$38,858.54
1982$13,674.96$38,445.17
1983$14,478.36$38,383.91
1984$15,215.03$39,055.30
1985$16,389.86$40,318.00
1986$17,295.19$41,096.16
1987$18,202.60$42,463.51
1988$19,238.70$43,301.18
1989$20,220.02$43,715.11
1990$21,547.08$44,455.33
1991$22,158.07$43,328.20
1992$22,707.29$42,610.87
1993$23,444.08$42,739.50
1994$23,905.78$42,324.54
1995$24,999.78$43,117.60
1996$27,698.72$46,467.25
1997$28,964.59$47,198.14
1998$30,626.14$48,817.37
1999$32,127.10$50,424.44
2000$32,971.02$50,610.52
2001$35,676.04$52,962.01
2002$36,782.44$53,114.81
2003$36,956.74$52,526.48
2004$37,885.63$52,676.13
2005$38,853.05$52,592.09
2006$40,606.72$53,183.72
2007$42,608.38$54,052.78
2008$43,356.42$53,455.51
2009$43,671.78$51,885.59
2010$43,356.08$51,710.63
2011$43,638.02$51,172.16
2012$45,312.41$51,521.89
2013$46,377.45$51,698.90
2014$48,257.83$52,949.08
2015$49,381.65$53,380.87
2016$51,728.78$55,527.05
2017$54,187.40$57,762.26
2018$56,128.66$58,570.70
2019$58,393.85$59,478.81
2020$62,797.47$62,797.47

Note: Yes, the 1% top-coding challenges affect the average to some degree. However, this data is reasonably close.

Top 10% Individual Income by Year

This table summarized the top 10% individual income by year in the US from 1962-2020. As in other tables, you'll find both non inflation-adjusted and inflation-adjusted numbers.

YearTop 10% Individual IncomeInflation Adjusted (2020)
1962$7,613.00$65,284.66
1963$7,800.00$66,149.17
1964$8,100.00$67,573.37
1965$8,550.00$70,560.48
1966$9,000.00$73,095.24
1967$9,620.00$76,117.01
1968$10,000.00$76,750.00
1969$10,700.00$78,586.12
1970$12,000.00$83,727.27
1971$12,400.00$81,690.99
1972$13,001.00$82,125.66
1973$14,300.00$87,452.19
1974$15,307.00$88,000.92
1975$16,200.00$84,010.14
1976$17,600.00$83,640.87
1977$19,000.00$85,277.78
1978$20,250.00$85,394.92
1979$22,200.00$87,153.45
1980$24,503.00$86,266.30
1981$26,110.00$80,967.37
1982$28,798.00$80,961.41
1983$30,400.00$80,594.13
1984$32,075.00$82,332.98
1985$34,638.00$85,207.26
1986$36,150.00$85,898.22
1987$38,105.00$88,892.36
1988$40,124.00$90,308.42
1989$41,800.00$90,370.42
1990$44,500.00$91,811.16
1991$45,900.00$89,753.50
1992$47,000.00$88,196.82
1993$49,000.00$89,328.98
1994$50,200.00$88,877.74
1995$52,290.00$90,185.56
1996$55,011.00$92,286.21
1997$56,850.00$92,637.74
1998$60,208.00$95,970.18
1999$63,200.00$99,194.27
2000$67,300.00$103,305.50
2001$70,360.00$104,451.26
2002$72,498.00$104,689.02
2003$73,577.00$104,574.72
2004$75,304.00$104,702.57
2005$77,351.00$104,703.51
2006$80,125.00$104,941.87
2007$84,537.00$107,243.22
2008$87,000.00$107,265.06
2009$87,025.00$103,392.71
2010$88,010.00$104,969.19
2011$90,000.00$105,538.58
2012$91,280.00$103,788.74
2013$93,854.00$104,623.01
2014$100,000.00$109,721.23
2015$100,115.00$108,222.90
2016$103,000.00$110,562.94
2017$108,444.00$115,598.29
2018$114,560.00$119,544.26
2019$116,400.00$118,562.71
2020$125,330.00$125,330.00

Top 5% Individual Income by Year

Below I've listed the estimated top 5% individual income per year in the United States. You'll again find both inflation adjusted and nominal numbers.

YearTop 5% Individual IncomeInflation Adjusted
1962$9,950.00$85,325.42
1963$10,000.00$84,806.63
1964$10,150.00$84,675.27
1965$10,600.00$87,478.49
1966$11,066.00$89,874.66
1967$12,000.00$94,948.45
1968$12,390.00$95,093.25
1969$13,500.00$99,150.72
1970$15,000.00$104,659.09
1971$15,700.00$103,431.33
1972$16,600.00$104,860.08
1973$18,160.00$111,058.17
1974$19,800.00$113,831.46
1975$20,400.00$105,790.54
1976$22,010.00$104,598.61
1977$24,000.00$107,719.30
1978$25,794.00$108,774.15
1979$28,072.00$110,205.93
1980$30,550.00$107,555.62
1981$33,200.00$102,953.54
1982$36,006.00$101,225.66
1983$39,599.00$104,981.80
1984$41,060.00$105,396.49
1985$44,206.00$108,743.93
1986$46,800.00$111,204.33
1987$49,700.00$115,941.49
1988$51,000.00$114,787.39
1989$53,153.00$114,915.29
1990$57,205.00$118,023.76
1991$59,235.00$115,828.95
1992$60,643.00$113,798.29
1993$62,900.00$114,669.24
1994$65,250.00$115,523.36
1995$70,000.00$120,730.34
1996$72,750.00$122,045.08
1997$75,523.00$123,065.61
1998$80,500.00$128,315.16
1999$84,424.00$132,505.97
2000$90,100.00$138,303.50
2001$94,556.00$140,370.85
2002$97,966.00$141,465.48
2003$100,000.00$142,129.63
2004$100,804.00$140,157.74
2005$101,808.00$137,808.89
2006$108,984.00$142,739.28
2007$113,645.00$144,169.48
2008$117,300.00$144,622.89
2009$118,612.00$140,920.60
2010$118,030.00$140,773.93
2011$120,000.00$140,718.11
2012$125,000.00$142,129.63
2013$126,008.00$140,466.43
2014$132,000.00$144,832.02
2015$139,187.00$150,459.19
2016$144,507.00$155,117.65
2017$150,404.00$160,326.49
2018$154,000.00$160,700.20
2019$158,526.00$161,471.41
2020$174,600.00$174,600.00

Top 1% Individual Income by Year

Here is the top 1% individual income by year in the US, from 1996 on.

YearTop 1% Individual IncomeInflation Adjusted
1996$150,000.00$251,639.34
1997$152,877.00$249,114.86
1998$173,500.00$276,555.04
1999$174,424.00$273,763.64
2000$220,822.00$338,961.77
2001$329,998.00$489,890.65
2002$320,966.00$463,483.36
2003$200,319.00$284,712.65
2004$200,750.00$279,122.51
2005$200,921.00$271,969.78
2006$227,500.00$297,962.88
2007$244,157.00$309,736.36
2008$221,929.00$273,623.31
2009$389,599.00$462,874.97
2010$325,846.00$388,635.28
2011$233,600.00$273,931.25
2012$250,150.00$284,429.81
2013$250,562.00$279,312.03
2014$257,200.00$282,203.00
2015$265,169.00$286,643.95
2016$282,110.00$302,824.37
2017$301,000.00$320,857.64
2018$301,016.00$314,112.55
2019$328,551.00$334,655.46
2020$363,002.00$363,002.00

See the FAQ note below regarding 1962-1995 top 1% income data.

Other Individual Income by Year Questions

Where is the top 1% income level for 1995 and earlier data?

The Census Bureau changed its top coding procedure for the 1996 survey. To keep the methodology constant, I don't attempt to model the top 1% for that time-frame – you'll have to look elsewhere.

Yes, this affects average income some small amount as well. In your head, assume average income is a few dollars more per year before 1996.

What other calculators and pages do you have?

There's a whole calculator page here if you're keen but for something more topical...

See our individual income calculator and research. Also, see our net worth calculator and net worth by age calculator.

Source and Methodology on the Individual Income by Year Data

Sarah Flood, Miriam King, Renae Rodgers, Steven Ruggles and J. Robert Warren. Integrated Public Use Microdata Series, Current Population Survey: Version 6.0 [dataset]. Minneapolis, MN: IPUMS, 1962-2020. https://doi.org/10.18128/D030.V6.0

The methodology here is different than our individual income research and individual income calculator. In this version, I only use variables which are available back to 1962. People who show up in either of these measures made the screen:

  • LABFORCE - A snapshot of labor force participation in the previous week
  • WKSWORK2 - Buckets of weeks worked in the previous year (I used 1-52 here)

Notes on Workforce Size and Data Quality

Interested in the workforce size by year? I've got you.

Please note this is a different number than the instantaneous workforce which you might find in a monthly survey. It's basically anyone who worked at all in the previous year.

Care about data quality? Well then... you should run the numbers yourself and apply your own personal biases screens. I have summarized the samples here so you can see what we're working with.

YearSamplesEstimated Workforce
1962*         34,331                61,448,670
1963*         23,325                54,078,001
1964         35,131                85,346,941
1965         35,242                87,133,031
1966         72,351                90,083,575
1967         45,926                92,629,900
1968         72,508                94,181,272
1969         74,198                96,613,960
1970         70,311                98,028,824
1971         71,224                99,115,922
1972         68,718              101,321,942
1973         67,490              103,161,900
1974         67,208              106,554,083
1975         66,330              108,380,735
1976         67,368              107,518,856
1977         82,434              110,760,428
1978         81,303              113,560,472
1979         81,892              116,484,113
1980         96,787              117,679,012
1981         96,451              121,233,236
1982         86,253              122,425,629
1983         85,654              122,619,989
1984         85,222              124,485,036
1985         86,412              127,130,646
1986         84,657              129,167,517
1987         84,177              131,223,880
1988         84,708              133,258,849
1989         79,317              135,493,547
1990         87,001              137,581,317
1991         86,383              138,085,457
1992         84,566              138,493,774
1993         83,406              139,157,683
1994         80,967              142,302,606
1995         80,589              143,817,961
1996         70,419              145,151,098
1997         71,844              147,934,921
1998         71,974              149,487,450
1999         72,492              150,996,472
2000         74,135              153,649,301
2001       119,056              156,928,040
2002       117,443              156,761,460
2003       115,941              157,846,862
2004       113,981              158,065,281
2005       112,342              159,585,292
2006       111,710              161,667,995
2007       110,791              163,721,174
2008       111,033              164,862,179
2009       111,455              165,228,670
2010       111,115              164,601,724
2011       107,820              163,980,091
2012       105,533              164,815,765
2013       106,075              166,391,316
2014**       103,970              166,897,710
2015       102,998              167,944,362
2016         95,945              170,398,397
2017         96,536              171,360,200
2018         93,217              172,805,768
2019         93,833              174,033,390
2020         82,675              175,295,712

*1962 & 1963 had even more aggressive top-coding than later years. Assume the workforce was actually closer in size to 1964 and beyond.

**2014 was a special year in the ASEC. The Census Bureau tweaked their income questions [PDF]. The data in this post uses the whole sample, which blends the methodologies together.

Does it matter? It depends on your use case.

Inflation vs. Individual Income by Year

Inflation is... controversial.

Of course, IPUMS makes an adjustment easy. They provide simple to use charts to adjust survey numbers for CPI. That part is fine, and the math is easy enough.

Inflation is meant to be one number summarizing the aggregate change in cost of a basket of goods over time. It – by definition – won't apply to every person equally. It follows, then, that it won't apply to every income bracket equally. Heck, just picking the right inflation adjustment is controversial.

The upper percentiles – comprised of people who generally save more money – are affected less by inflation than the middle of the curve (in fact, if they are investors they may come out on top).

Of course, any illustrative example is also a generalization and a dodge. For example, since the 1980s people consuming more education and medical care experience more "inflation" than others.

We need to account for inflation somehow. And no, there isn't a fair way to do it across the spectrum. Just know that the math is fuzzy.

Conclusions on Individual Income Percentile by Year

Unlike with households, it's easier to compare individuals over time (but note things like the age of workforce change).

As with the household data, we also don't have the best view into the top 1% before 1996. (But we do have plenty of years to scoff at!).

The top-coding and methodology changes in the 1990s muddy the waters some, but the tool is very useful especially for the 95th percentile and below.

Limits to the Data

This data isn't longitudinal. The top 1%, for example, doesn't always comprise the same people.

To see what I mean, look at the workforce table, the top 1% actually comprises three times more individuals near the end, while also increasing in dollar value.

The takeaway: we've seen broad gains across the income spectrum. However, – using the ASEC data in this tool and the charts – we can't trace individuals up and down over the years.

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