Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

    Some facts about US household income

    I just spent 2 hours looking for a dataset on county-level median household income in the US. I want to compare it to the software engineer salary dataset I already have.

    While that’s brewing, here are some facts I found, complete with sources and in no particular order. Not all facts agree with each other, and I don’t know why. ?

    Swizec Teller published ServerlessHandbook.dev avatarSwizec Teller published ServerlessHandbook.dev@Swizec
    25.2% of the United States's population lives in a upper middle class household; with an annual income between $75,000 and $150,000.


    The median household income tells you what is considered “middle class” in a certain area. 67% of median to 200% of median falls into middle class. You can use this as a rough proxy for cost of living in an area.


    “Cost of living” is not a defined thing. Most researchers build a composite index based on tens, sometimes hundreds, of indicators that feel right. Things like cost of groceries, rent, transportation, and stuff like that.

    In this data set, the Composite Index is a measurement of the relative price of goods and services within an area. These prices include things like rent, healthcare, groceries, transportation, and more. Collectively, they are considered the “cost of living.”

    All percentages are comparisons to the national average. The national average is represented by “100%,” so a city that has a 132% composite index is a city where goods and services (or the cost of living) are about 32% more than the national average.

    [Experian Data Quality]

    In 2005, a household income over $250,000 put you in the top 1.5%. [1] By 2014, that same income put you in the top 3%. [2] This implies the top of the pile really is retaining more than it used.

    Median household income does not follow a uniform random distribution. This implies network effects play a large role in how much you can earn.

    e 2012png4g2i30

    Social class in the US has an interesting definition:

    While many people in the US believe in a three-class system, sociologists disagree on their precise definition and acknowledge that class structure (particularly in the the “middle class") does not always match income distribution.[3]

    Why so much focus on those oh so very evil people at the top? The ones we hate vicariously through episodes of Mr. Robot?

    Because the average software engineer makes $90,000/year, according to my dataset.


    If you’re an average software engineer in the United States, and you have a salaried job, you are an upper middle class household. You, personally, as an individual.


    I don’t know exactly what I’m making yet, but it smells like there’s a good story in here somewhere.

    Did you enjoy this article?

    Published on September 29th, 2016 in Freelancing, Learning, Personal, Side Projects

    Learned something new?
    Want to become an expert?

    Here's how it works 👇

    Leave your email and I'll send you thoughtfully written emails every week about React, JavaScript, and your career. Lessons learned over 20 years in the industry working with companies ranging from tiny startups to Fortune5 behemoths.

    Join Swizec's Newsletter

    And get thoughtful letters 💌 on mindsets, tactics, and technical skills for your career. Real lessons from building production software. No bullshit.

    "Man, love your simple writing! Yours is the only newsletter I open and only blog that I give a fuck to read & scroll till the end. And wow always take away lessons with me. Inspiring! And very relatable. 👌"

    ~ Ashish Kumar

    Join over 14,000 engineers just like you already improving their careers with my letters, workshops, courses, and talks. ✌️

    Have a burning question that you think I can answer? I don't have all of the answers, but I have some! Hit me up on twitter or book a 30min ama for in-depth help.

    Ready to Stop copy pasting D3 examples and create data visualizations of your own?  Learn how to build scalable dataviz components your whole team can understand with React for Data Visualization

    Curious about Serverless and the modern backend? Check out Serverless Handbook, modern backend for the frontend engineer.

    Ready to learn how it all fits together and build a modern webapp from scratch? Learn how to launch a webapp and make your first 💰 on the side with ServerlessReact.Dev

    Want to brush up on your modern JavaScript syntax? Check out my interactive cheatsheet: es6cheatsheet.com

    By the way, just in case no one has told you it yet today: I love and appreciate you for who you are ❤️

    Created by Swizec with ❤️