Political Calculations' initial estimate of median household income in February 2021 is $66,004, a reduction of $35 (or 0.05%) from the initial estimate of $66,039 for January 2021. This was the second month-over-month decline for median household income in the U.S. since the coronavirus recession bottomed in August 2020.
The latest update to the chart tracking Median Household Income in the 21st Century shows the nominal (red) and inflation-adjusted (blue) trends for median household income in the United States from January 2000 through February 2021. The inflation-adjusted figures are presented in terms of constant February 2021 U.S. dollars.
The cause of the recent decline after months of recovery can be found in the renewed lockdown measures imposed by several state and local governments in late November or early December 2020, such as in California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, to identify the lockdown states with the largest populations. The data for December 2020 had indicated the rebound in median household income was slowing. The data for January 2021 confirms their negative impact. The data for February 2021 shows that negative impact continued.
With the lifting of restrictions on business operations and stay-at-home orders for residents in these states, we anticipate median household income began recovering in March 2021, which we should start seeing in the next update. The lifting of state and local government-imposed lockdown measures will be the primary driver of economic growth in 2021.
For the first time since January 2020, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) revised its monthly resident population estimates in March 2021, which affected its estimates for December 2020 (revised downward by 59,000) and January 2021 (revised downward by 164,000).
The BEA's estimates for aggregate wage and salary data underwent a more typical revision for this dataset, with slightly downward revisions affecting the estimates for the months of October 2020 (-0.2%), November 2020 (-0.2%), December 2020 (-0.6%), and January 2021 (-0.9%). The largest adjustments were made in the period where several large population states listed in the section above had imposed lockdown orders as COVID-19 cases within them surged, reducing economic activity.
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Population. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 26 March 2021. Accessed: 26 March 2021.
U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Table 2.6. Personal Income and Its Disposition, Monthly, Personal Income and Outlays, Not Seasonally Adjusted, Monthly, Middle of Month. Compensation of Employees, Received: Wage and Salary Disbursements. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 26 March 2021. Accessed: 26 March 2021.
U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index, All Urban Consumers - (CPI-U), U.S. City Average, All Items, 1982-84=100. [Online Database (via Federal Reserve Economic Data)]. Last Updated: 10 March 2021. Accessed: 10 March 2021.