Business & Real Estate

Sacramento’s median household income hasn’t been this high in at least 30 years

The median household income in the Sacramento region rose to a historic high last year as unemployment remained low, according to new census data.

The median household income – the middle income in a ranked list – was $73,142 in 2018, up from $69,664 in 2017, after adjusting for inflation. That’s the highest the median income has been in at least three decades, census figures show. Household incomes also rose statewide. The increases were statistically significant, according to the census bureau.

Median incomes rose in the Sacramento region during the housing boom and topped out around $72,300 – adjusted for inflation –before crashing during the housing bust. Incomes fell to about $61,400 by 2013 before beginning a series of year-to-year increases.

The healthy economy is a likely reason for the upward trend. The region’s unemployment rate sat below 4% for much of 2018 and at times broke historical records..

The income gains appear to be spread across the economy. The region’s poorest fifth of households saw their incomes rise, as did the middle class and the wealthiest fifth of households. The region’s Gini Index, a statistical measure of income inequality, also dropped. In some cases, those changes fell within the margin of error of the census survey, which goes out to more than 3.5 million U.S. households each year.

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Phillip Reese is a data specialist at The Sacramento Bee and an assistant professor of journalism at Sacramento State. His journalism has won the George Polk and Worth Bingham awards, and he was a finalist for the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting.