What Is the Average Pay in the United States Per Year?

By Sarah Li Cain · April 11, 2024 · 8 minute read

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What Is the Average Pay in the United States Per Year?

Whether you’re deciding on a new career path or wondering if you’re being paid enough, it can help to know what the typical American worker earns per year.

Based on the latest data available from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the average annual pay in the U.S. in 2022 was $63,795 — a 5.32% jump from the previous year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates the average worker made closer to $69,986 that same year. The amount you make may depend on a number of factors, including your occupation, where you live, your gender, and your level of education.

Key Findings

Let’s take a closer look at how the average annual pay in the U.S. has changed over a three-year period based on data from both the SSA and BLS.

Year

Average Annual Salary per SSA

Average Annual Salary per BLS

2020 $55,628.60 $64,021
2021 $60,575.07 $67,610
2022 $63,795 $69,986

It can also be helpful to look at median earnings, which represent the midpoint of salaries in the U.S. In other words, half of the salaries fall below the median, and half are higher than the median.

The following table shows the median annual salary for a three-year period.

Year

Median Annual Salary

2021 $51,896
2022 $54,132
2023 $59,540

Source: BLS

As you can see, average and median incomes have risen each year. However, average salaries can be affected by various factors such as your occupation, age, and gender. Note that the numbers above also don’t include unearned income.


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Examples of High-Salary Jobs in the US

Some industries tend to pay more than others, which means the career you choose may affect how much you earn. Here’s a sampling of high-paying jobs and their average annual salary, according to the BLS:

•   Cardiologist, $421,330

•   Dentist, $172,290

•   Aircraft pilots and flight engineer, $225,740

•   Lawyer and judicial law clerk, $161,680

•   Public relations manager, $150,030

•   Air traffic controller, $130,840

Recommended: How to Reduce Taxable Income for High Earners

Average American Income by Occupation

While salaries tend to vary based on geography, seeing how much certain types of jobs pay can be informative. Let’s take a look at different occupations and how much they typically pay.

Occupation (Type)

Average annual salary

Management $131,200
Legal $124,540
Computer and Mathematical Operations $108,130
Architecture and Engineering $94,670
Healthcare Practitioners and Technical $96,770
Business and Financial Operations $86,080
Life, Physical, and Social Science $83,640
Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media $76,500
Educational Instruction and Library $63,240
Construction and Extraction $58,400
Community and Social Service $55,760
Protective Service $54,010
Installation, Maintenance, and Repair $55,680
Sales (and Related) $50,370
Office and Administrative Support $45,550
Transportation and Material Moving $37,920
Farming, Fishing, and Forestry $37,870
Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance $35,900
Personal Care and Service $36,210
Healthcare support $35,560
Food Preparation and Serving Related $28,130

Source: BLS, May 2022 data

Keep in mind that average salaries may differ depending on the specific occupation you have. For example, although claims adjusters fall under the business and financial operations category, their average salary is around $72,040.

US Income by Gender

Demographics, specifically gender, are another factor to consider. By and large, men tend to outearn women throughout their career. The median annual salary for a 16- to 24-year-old man is $38,688; a woman of the same age earns $36,088, per the latest data available from the BLS. Likewise, the median annual salary for a man aged 25 and older is $64,376; a woman of the same age earns $52,520.

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Median Income by State

Wages often vary based on where you live. In many cases, states with higher costs of living also have higher wages. For example, the median annual income in Hawaii is $104,704 — much higher than Mississippi’s median annual income of $70,950.

Below is the median income by state for a household of three people, according to data compiled by the Census Bureau between April 1 and May 14, 2023.

State

Median annual income

Alabama $77,419
Alaska $113,035
Arizona $90,193
Arkansas $74,475
California $104,785
Colorado $113,822
Connecticut $121,958
Delaware $103,598
District of Columbia $146,440
Florida $83,396
Georgia $87,742
Hawaii $104,704
Idaho $87,960
Illinois $101,951
Indiana $89,800
Iowa $95,739
Kansas $88,271
Kentucky $75,700
Louisiana $73,393
Maine $95,531
Maryland $122,385
Massachusetts $127,172
Michigan $93,873
Minnesota $114,267
Mississippi $70,950
Missouri $89,515
Montana $84,019
Nebraska $99,845
Nevada $86,618
New Hampshire $136,886
New Jersey $122,540
New Mexico $71,283
New York $103,444
North Carolina $87,369
North Dakota $93,240
Ohio $90,912
Oklahoma $77,166
Oregon $101,989
Pennsylvania $100,888
Rhode Island $109,514
South Carolina $82,114
South Dakota $92,794
Tennessee $85,014
Texas $87,228
Utah $102,941
Vermont $103,763
Virginia $111,017
Washington $116,345
West Virginia $81,964
Wisconsin $99,261
Wyoming $93,651

US Income by Race

As the BLS data below shows, there is often a pay disparity among workers of different races and ethnicities.

•   Asian, $79,456 per year

•   White, $60,164

•   Black or African American, $50,284

•   Hispanic or Latino, $45,968

How Does Your Income Stack Up?

Now that you’ve seen some of the average and median annual salaries by occupation, location, gender, and race or ethnicity, how does yours compare? If you’re not making as much as you’d like, you may want to research wages in your industry and region, and use that information to help you negotiate a higher salary. If you’re ready to make a bigger change, you can use this data as you consider whether to switch to a more lucrative field or relocate to a higher-paying region.

Recommended: Cost of Living by State

How to Stretch Your Income

Here are some different strategies to help you make the most of the money you make:

Track Your Spending

Understanding exactly where your money is going can help you keep tabs on where your money is going and identify areas where you can cut back. Consider using a spending app to track your spending and saving.

Negotiate Bills

Want to lower monthly expenses, such as your cell phone or internet services? Consider calling up various providers to see if you’re able to get a better deal or if there are promotions you can take advantage of.

Cut Back on Large Expenses

Housing, food, and transportation tend to be the largest line budget items. Explore ways to trim your biggest costs. Examples include refinancing your mortgage, negotiating your rent, shopping at discount grocery stores, and taking public transportation when possible.

Sharpen Your Marketable Skills

Accepting networking opportunities and taking professional development courses could help you become more marketable as an employee. This in turn could set you up to earn more in the long run. If you’re on a tight budget, look into no- or low-cost ways to cultivate high-income skills, and ask your employer if there are any free resources available.

Pros and Cons of a High Salary

A high income can be great, but it does come with some downsides.

Pros:

•   Improved quality of life: With more money, you can afford a higher standard of living and be able to afford different amenities such as better access to healthcare and food.

•   Financial security: The more you earn, the more you can feel secure you have enough money to afford the things you want and need.

•   Ability to achieve financial goals faster: Having more disposable income could mean you can set more money aside for long- and short-term savings goals, like retirement or going on a family vacation.

Cons:

•   Higher taxes: Earning more can put you in a higher tax bracket. However, there are ways to reduce your taxable income.

•   Pressure to maintain income: If you’re accustomed to a certain living standard, you may feel like you need to keep earning the same amount or more to maintain it.

•   More work stress: In many cases, higher-paying jobs come with more responsibilities and, at times, longer hours.


💡 Quick Tip: Income, expenses, and life circumstances can change. Consider reviewing your budget a few times a year and making any adjustments if needed.

The Takeaway

Understanding what the average American worker makes in a year can come in handy, especially if you’re considering a new career path, negotiating a higher salary, or looking for a new place to live. According to the latest data from the Social Security Administration, the average annual pay in the U.S. is $63,795. But the amount you earn may depend on a wide range of factors, such as the industry you work in, where you live, your gender, and your race or ethnicity.

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FAQ

What is a good salary in the US?

There’s no one set amount that would be considered a good salary in the U.S. However, the average salary is around $63,795, according to the Social Security Administration.

What is the real average wage in the US?

The average wage in the U.S. is $69,986 according to the most recent data available from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What is the top 10 percent income in the US?

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the top 10% of workers in the U.S. earn $135,605.

How much should you be making at 30?

While there is no definitive amount you should earn by the time you’re 30, the average salary for U.S. workers aged 25 to 34 is $56,160, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Photo credit: iStock/VAKSMANV

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