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Income

Nonmetro median household income was $41,198 in 2012. This represented a slight (and statisically insignificant) decline from the prior year’s inflation-adjusted value, and the fifth year in a row that nonmetro median household income has fallen in real terms. In inflation-adjusted dollars, 2012 nonmetro median household income was 8.4 percent below its pre-recessionary peak of $44,974 (in 2007).

In metro areas, median household income rose slightly in real terms in 2012 (but by a statistically insignificant amount) to $52,988. This figure was 7.7 percent below its 2007 value in real terms. Median household income in nonmetro areas was 77.7 percent of the metro median in 2012, although the presumed lower cost of living in rural areas may overstate the "real" rural/urban income gap.

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Real median household income by residence, 2000-12 (in 2012 dollars)
Year Nonmetro Metro Nonmetro as percentage of metro (%)
Median household income ($) Change from previous year (%) Median household income ($) Change from previous year (%)
2012 41,198 -0.4 52,988 0.7 77.7
2011 41,366 -2.5 52,641 -2.4* 78.6
2010 42,419 -1.2 53,955 -2.1* 78.6
2009 42,952 -1.2 55,138 -0.3 77.9
2008 43,492 -3.3* 55,295 -3.7* 78.7
2007 44,974 3.1* 57,394 -0.4 78.4
2006 43,610 -1.2 57,644 1.2* 75.7
2005 44,160 N/A 56,986 N/A 77.5
2004 N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
2003 43,813 -1.0 57,473 -0.6 76.2
2002 44,252 1.6 57,791 -1.4* 76.6
2001 43,561 -0.7 58,622 -1.6* 74.3
2000 43,876 N/A 59,582 N/A 73.6
*Indicates a statistically significant change in median income, at the 90-percent confidence level. N/A = not available.
Notes: The definition of metropolitan areas changed during the course of 2004. Estimates for 2004 are not available; the post-2004 estimates reflect the 2003 OMB metro/nonmetro definitions.
Source: Calculated by ERS using data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) to the Current Population Survey (P-60), U.S. Census Bureau. Adjusted for inflation using CPI-U.

Last updated: Friday, February 28, 2014

For more information contact: Thomas Hertz

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