13+ Ways to Break Down the Average Salary in the US in 2022
Updated · Oct 06, 2022
Inflation in the US hit 8.6% in May 2022—that’s the highest it’s been since 1981.
Wages, on the other hand, don’t appear to be keeping up with inflation.
Real income certainly hasn’t gone up quite as much as we’d like it to, but what is the average salary in the US nowadays? Is the situation quite as dire as the media would have us believe?
We’ll let the numbers speak for themselves.
Telling Facts About the Average American Salary (Editor’s Choice)
- The real median personal income in the United States is $35,805.
- The real median household income, on the other hand, is $67,521.
- Middle-class households have a $48,500-$145,500 income.
- The female-to-male earnings ratio in the US is 83%.
- Someone with a Bachelor’s degree makes $73,499 on average.
- If they just graduated, though, they can expect $47,562 as a starting salary.
- Unless they graduated from one of the country’s top colleges—then, they start at $90,000+.
- Those with a Master’s degree in Counseling can expect a median mid-career salary of $55,451—that’s the lowest of any Master’s degree.
- In the US, people aged 45+ earn twice as much as younger generations.
Average Income in the US in 2022
Do you know what’s the difference between an average, a mean, and a median value?
Unless you’re a statistics enthusiast, there’s a good chance you don’t—but that’s okay.
In short, here’s what you should know:
When it comes to wages, median figures are generally more accurate, as averages can be easily skewed by the existence of extremes (for instance, the 2,668 billionaires in the world).
Anyway, let’s see what’s the median and the average US salary in 2022.
1. The United States’ GDP is $69,287 per capita.
(Source: World Bank)
The GDP per capita is a measure of the economic output of each person.
Due to the nature of this metric, most high-ranking countries have very small populations, such as Singapore, Qatar, Bermuda, or the Cayman Islands.
The #1 country on the list is Luxembourg, scoring a GDP per capita of $134,753. The US, for comparison, only boasts half as much ($69,287), claiming the 10th spot on the global ranking.
Fun fact: Luxemburg has 644,525 citizens; the US has 329.5 million.
2. The average gross annual wage in the United States is $69,392.
The average yearly salary in the US is $69,392, meaning Americans are the wealthiest people on Earth (generally speaking). The second highest-earning employees live in Iceland and make $67,488 annually.
For comparison, the average for the entire OECD (which includes 38 of the world’s foremost economies) is just $49,165.
Fun fact: Europe dominates the rest of the top 15, with the only exceptions being Canada and Australia, which rank #8 ($55,342) and #9 ($55,206), respectively.
3. The real median personal income in the US is $35,805.
(Source: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)
Although this number’s half the one in the previous stat, we promise you it makes sense.
First of all, the median salary in the US is lower than the average due to how it’s calculated. As depressing as this may sound, it is more representative of the typical person (remember that the average number is easily affected by the few ultra-rich while the median isn’t).
Secondly, this stat has to do with “real income,” which means the figures are adjusted for inflation. This is probably why it hasn’t changed much since 1974 when it stood at $25,326.
Fun fact: The median US household income is $67,521. That’s more or less the median US salary multiplied by two, which is what most households realistically rely on.
4. The median rent in the US is $1,722.
(Source: Business Insider)
In case you needed confirmation, here it is: Rental prices are definitely going up.
In 2022, the median rent in the US is a whopping $1,722 per month, which amounts to 31% of the average US household income.
In other words, all you earn the first week and a half of every month goes towards rent. Imagine if you could save or invest all that money….
Fun fact: Financial experts say you should spend no more than 28% of your income on housing. The government itself considers people who spend over 30% of their income on rent, utilities, etc. “cost-burdened.” Someone has to tell that to the landlords ASAP.
5. The minimum wage in the US is $7.25.
(Source: U.S. Department of Labor)
While the average salary in the United States is pretty decent, the minimum wage absolutely isn’t—we can’t say we’re too surprised, though, given that it hasn’t been updated since 2009.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt first signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938, and from then on, Congress amended it every few years (until 2009, that is).
That said, most states have separate minimum wage laws that dictate a higher rate. For instance, as of 2022, Washington DC has the highest minimum wage ($15.20). California and Washington states follow, with $15.00 and $14.49, respectively.
On the other side of the spectrum, there are Georgia and Wyoming, where the minimum wage is $5.15—even lower than the federal minimum.
Logically, that amounts to a sum way lower than the national average salary. If you spent a whole year working at $5.15, you’d only make about $9,000. Good luck surviving on that.
Fun fact: California, New York, and DC are the US's top three most expensive states to live in. So, it’s no wonder they have “high” minimum wages. California, in fact, is about to make it even higher—$15.50.
6. Middle-class households have a $48,500-$145,500 income.
(Source: Pew Research)
How much does the average American make?
Most of the population (52%) are considered “middle class,” meaning they have an annual household income of $48,500-$145,000.
In other words, if your annual income is $40k or less, you’re with the 29% of the US population who live in a lower-class home.
If your household income surpasses $145,500 a year, congratulations! You belong to the upper 19%.
Disclaimer: Geography plays a huge role in this categorization. If you live in NYC and make $50,000 yearly, you’re not even close to middle-class. You’ll need a household income of ~$63,000 to climb the socioeconomic ladder.
7. The salary of Amazon’s CEO is 6,474 times higher than that of the average employee.
(Source: The Guardian)
What is a good yearly salary for a CEO?
A couple hundred million dollars, apparently.
In May 2022, Amazon shareholders approved a $212 million payout to the company’s CEO. Granted, the ecommerce giant reported $469.8 billion in revenue in 2021, so $212 million is not all that much in comparison—except that it is.
The median salary of your typical Amazon employee is approximately $32,000, give or take. In other words, the CEO earns 6,474 times more.
CEOs of other large corporations tend to make many times what their blue- or white-collar workers earn, too. Yet, the wage gap between the two is usually about 670:1. Amazon’s clearly in a whole different league.
Average Income Demographics
Unfortunately, a degree is not enough to get a good salary. Your gender, race, ethnicity, age, and alma mater matter play a big part in your financial prospects.
Let’s see how bad the differences are.
8. The female-to-male earnings ratio in the US is 83%.
(Source: United States Census Bureau)
You’ve likely heard talk of pay inequality or a “wage gap.” The term refers to how women often get paid less than their male colleagues for doing the same job.
While the average salary in America is among the highest in the world, women in the US earn only 83% of what their male counterparts do.
If that sounds bad, wait ‘till you hear how much worse it used to be—in the 1960s, women’s earnings equaled just under 60% of men’s wages.
Fun fact: Since the female average annual salary is 17% lower than the male salary, it then follows that women would need to work 17% longer to breach the gap and get the same amount of money. In practical terms, that means a woman had to work until March 15th this year to earn what men did in 2021. This is called “Equal Pay Day.”
9. The earnings ratio of Black women to Black men is 93.2%.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The wage gap also varies by race—it turns out that the difference in average annual income is bigger in some groups than in others.
For instance, White women earn 83.1% of the money White men make. The wage gap is similar for Hispanic (84.5%) and Asian women (85.2%), but Black women seem to have it a bit better in terms of the gender gap, earning just 6.8% less than Black men.
That said, since a Black person’s median individual income in the US is lower than that of a White person, to begin with, a Black woman still ends up earning 15% less than a White woman.
10. Asian men make an average of $1,452 weekly.
(Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)
Contrary to popular belief, White Americans are not, in reality, the wealthiest. Asians make about 25% more.
As such, the average Asian man earns $1,452 weekly, compared to the $1,148 a White man makes. In women’s case, it’s $1,237 for an Asian woman compared to $954 for a White one.
Alas, the average American salary for other races and ethnicities is substantially lower—Black people get $840 weekly ($870 for men, $811 for women), whereas Hispanics earn $799 a week ($866 vs $732).
11. Middle-aged Americans earn twice as much as younger people.
(Source: Policy Advice)
The average income varies by age, too. In fact, age seems to be the most significant factor, as mid-career wages tend to reach levels twice as high as starting wages.
This means that while an employee in their early twenties can expect to make roughly $2,750 a month, someone in their fifties will be making $4,900.
Looking at the average salary by age group in the US, one can notice a curious trend: People 45-54 years old earn $4,927 a month. As they grow older, though, their monthly earnings diminish—those in the 55-64 cohort earn $4,910, whereas full-time employees who are 65 or older make an average of $4,297.
12. A Bachelor’s degree holder makes $73,499 a year on average.
The average salary in the US ranges from $26,000-$147,000, depending on educational background and degree.
For instance, people who don’t have a high school diploma are unlikely to get paid more than $25,000-$30,000; those who do can make up to $40,000.
However, it’s not until you go to college that things truly start to pick up—the average yearly salary for a college graduate is $73,499. If you pursue a Master’s degree, though, you can look forward to an average of $92,272; get a Ph.D., and you can be among the 9% of people in the country who make well over 100k.
That said, some career paths are more likely than others to get you a good salary—postgraduate degree or not.
13. Having a Master’s degree in Counseling will get you the lowest median mid-career salary among graduates.
Furthering your education is generally a good way of improving your job prospects, but toiling away for years to get a Master’s in Counseling is probably not the best way to do that.
The median mid-career income of someone in the field is just $55,451, which is the lowest of any industry by far—it’s even lower than the average US salary!
Social work, music, and education are other financially questionable choices.
At the other end of the spectrum comes a Master’s degree in Finance, which provides the opportunity for a median salary of about $125,208.
Biomedical engineering, computer science, information technologies, statistics, and various related disciplines also pay six figures.
14. Graduating from an Ivy League School boosts your starting salary by at least $30,000.
We all have different ideas as to what a good salary is, but there’s one thing we know for sure: Graduates from top universities would not be happy if you offered them the average fresh-out-of-college salary of $47,562 a year—they have reason to expect more.
As of 2022, Harvey Mudd graduates tend to start at $97,700 a year, MIT graduates can expect a starting salary of $93,700, whereas Princeton and Harvard graduates look forward to $81,000.
With various geopolitical factors at play, it’s hard to predict how the situation will develop. But we can look at the hard data and draw some conclusions—and that’s what we did today.
Even if you aren’t entirely satisfied with the current state of affairs, you shouldn’t forget that the average salary in the US is still the highest in the world in nominal terms, and it’s likely to stay that way for the foreseeable future.
That said, we at Web Tribunal would like to see those median figures go up, too.
Unaware that life beyond the internet exists, Nick is poking servers and control panels, playing with WordPress add-ons, and helping people get the hosting that suits them.