U.S. Department of Commerce
State & County QuickFacts

Median Household Income

Source: U. S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 5-Year Estimates. Updated every year. http://factfinder2.census.gov

Definitions:

Median household income

Income of Households - This includes the income of the householder and all other individuals 15 years old and over in the household, whether they are related to the householder or not. Because many households consist of only one person, average household income is usually less than average family income. Although the household income statistics cover the past 12 months, the characteristics of individuals and the composition of households refer to the time of interview. Thus, the income of the household does not include amounts received by individuals who were members of the household during all or part of the past 12 months if these individuals no longer resided in the household at the time of interview. Similarly, income amounts reported by individuals who did not reside in the household during the past 12 months but who were members of the household at the time of interview are included. However, the composition of most households was the same during the past 12 months as at the time of interview.

The median divides the income distribution into two equal parts: one-half of the cases falling below the median income and one-half above the median. For households and families, the median income is based on the distribution of the total number of households and families including those with no income. The median income for individuals is based on individuals 15 years old and over with income. Median income for households, families, and individuals is computed on the basis of a standard distribution.

Scope and Methodology:

These data are collected in the American Community Survey (ACS). The data for each geographic area are presented together with margins of error at factfinder2.census.gov. The data are period estimates, that is, they represent the characteristics of the population over a specific 60-month data collection period.

Since answers to income questions are frequently based on memory and not on records, many people tended to forget minor or sporadic sources of income and, therefore, underreport their income. Underreporting tends to be more pronounced for income sources that are not derived from earnings, such as public assistance, interest, dividends, and net rental income.

Margins of Error (MOE). ACS estimates are based on a sample and are subject to sampling variability. The degree of uncertainty for an estimate arising from sampling variability is represented through the use of a MOE. The MOE used with ACS estimates can be interpreted as providing a 90 percent probability that the interval defined by the estimate plus the MOE and the estimate minus the MOE (the upper and lower confidence bounds) contains the full population value of the estimate.

For example, suppose the 5-year ACS reported the percentage of people 25 years and older in Birmingham, Alabama who had a bachelor's degree was 21.3 percent and that the MOE associated with this estimate is plus or minus (+/-) 0.9 percent. By adding and subtracting the MOE from the estimate, we can calculate the 90-percent confidence interval for this estimate at 21.3%, +/-0.9%:


21.3% - 0.9% = 20.4% = Lower-bound estimate
21.3% + 0.9% = 22.2% = Upper-bound estimate

Therefore, we can be 90 percent confident that the percent of the population in Birmingham, Alabama of age 25 years and older having a bachelor's degree in 2007-2011 falls somewhere between 20.4 percent and 22.2 percent.

For this Fact and other 5-year Economic Characteristic Facts (listed below), their estimates and margins of error or percents and percent margins of errors can be found on Data Profile - Economic Characteristics. This profile is displayed by geography. Click on the link for "Browse for Data sets (geography picked)" near the top of the Quick facts profile page, click on the link for People QuickLinks/American Community Survey - "Economic Characteristics" for the data profile.


Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16 and over;
Per capita money income in the past 12 months,
Median household income,
Persons below poverty level, percent

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