Most Americans’ best days are behind them

By Darla Cameron and Ted Mellnik. Published Dec. 12, 2014

Median household income peaked at least 15 years ago in 81 percent of U.S. counties. That means that when incomes are adjusted for inflation, most middle class households are actually earning less money than they did years ago. Even though the economy is finally revving up, most Americans still don’t see the benefits in their paychecks.

When income peaked

45 years ago210 counties
in 1969

peaked in 1969

35 years572 counties
in 1979

peaked in 1979

25 years141 counties
in 1989

peaked in 1989

15 years1,623 counties
in 1999

peaked in 1999

5 years213 counties
in 2009

peaked in 2009

1 year380 counties
in 2013

peaked in 2013
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The fracking boom lifted western North Dakota

Many populous East Coast cities peaked 25 years ago

The ‘90s were a prosperous time for most of the nation

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The inflation-adjusted median household income in , , peaked in at $.


There isn't enough data to determine the highest median wage in CTY, ST.

Here's how it compares to the U.S.

Note: Counties in gray do not have enough data to determine the highest median wage. All income amounts are estimates of median household income from the U.S. Census or from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey. Year-to-year differences may be within the margin of error for the estimates.
SOURCES: U.S. Census and American Community Survey. Amounts in 2013 dollars.