Sep 18, 2023 - News

Colorado incomes flat post-pandemic, new census data shows

Change in the share of Denver metro area households, by income
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Colorado's strong economic growth is not trickling down to most workers.

Driving the news: The state's median income rose ever-so-slightly in 2022 to $89,157, a 0.2% increase that is not statistically significant, according to new census figures.

  • The Denver metro's median income remained stagnant at $99,000, even as the proportion of those making $100,000 jumped to 50% of households and lower-income brackets shrank, an exclusive Axios analysis finds.

Why it matters: The modest improvements belie the affordability crisis in Colorado, where income inequality has only expanded since the pandemic.

What they're saying: "People are experiencing an increase in real wages, but it's just so much more expensive to live here that those dollars aren't going as far … they are still very pinched," says Andrea Kuwik, a senior policy analyst at the Bell Policy Center, a liberal advocacy organization in Denver.

The big picture: U.S. median household income fell 0.8% between 2021-2022, to $74,755, adjusted for inflation.

  • The share of American households making $100,000 or more rose from 34% to 37%.

Of note: Because this 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, writes Axios' Alex Fitzpatrick.

Be smart: The pandemic "changed the geography of where money is made in the United States," Axios Macro's Neil Irwin reports, as many higher-income Americans left cities like New York and San Francisco.

Change in estimated population, 2021–2022
Data: U.S. Census; Map: Alice Feng/Axios

Zoom in: Colorado's population inched upward in 2022 to 5.84 million people, according to new census estimates.

  • It's a 0.5% increase compared to 2021.
  • The Denver metro area grew to 2,985,871 residents, a 0.4% increase.

The intrigue: The state's median age is now 37.7.

What we're watching: Whether — and how much of — 2022's population change data was a pandemic-era blip.

Explore the interactive map

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to show the population of Denver's metro area increased by 0.4%, to 2,985,871 (not 1.4% to 729,000).

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