Sep 18, 2023 - News

Chicago metro's median income dropped from pre-pandemic

Change in median household income, 2019 to 2022
Data: U.S. Census map; Chart: Kavya Beheraj

The median household income across the Chicago metro area fell 4.8% last year compared with 2019, per new Census Bureau data.

Why it matters: This decline in household income happened at the same time the cost of living rose with inflation.

What's happening: The Chicago metro's median income was $82.9k in 2022, compared with $87.1k in 2019, adjusted for inflation.

  • Statewide, median household income fell by 4.1%, to $76.7k from $79.9k.
  • The share of metro area households making $75k or more increased, while the share of those making less shrank.
Change in the share of Chicago metro area households, by income
Data: US Census Map; Chart: Kavya Beheraj

Details: The new data comes by way of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2022 American Community Survey (ACS) one-year estimates, released Thursday.

  • The ACS is one of the best resources available for a regularly published quantified look at myriad facets of U.S. life, down to a remarkably local level.

The big picture: Nationally, median household income fell 1.6% from 2019 to 2022, adjusted for inflation.

  • That trend "explains why Americans have felt so meh about the strong economy over the past couple years," Axios Markets' Emily Peck writes based on similar yet slightly different data.

The intrigue: The COVID-19 pandemic "changed the geography of where money is made in the United States," Axios Macro's Neil Irwin reports, as many higher-income Americans decamped from cities like New York and San Francisco to "rural and exurban places and popular vacation destinations."

  • Outmigration during the pandemic resulted in Cook County's loss of more than $7 billion in taxable income from 2020 to 2021.

Of note: Because the latest ACS release is based on 2022 data, it's capturing what some call the "late pandemic era," when many elements of normality returned but the pandemic still loomed in the background, affecting many aspects of life.

Go deeper: Where America stands

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that the Chicago metro's median household income was $82.9k in 2022 and $87.1k in 2019 (not vice versa).

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