Sep 14, 2023 - Business

Arizona leads in income gains but lags behind national median income

Change in median household income, 2019 to 2022
Data: U.S. Census; Map: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Arizona saw the largest percentage increase in median household income in the nation between 2019 and 2022, according to newly released Census Bureau data.

  • And the Valley was among the largest income gainers across major U.S. metros.

Why it matters: Household incomes fell by almost 2% nationally, but Arizona bucked the trend.

What's happening: Greater Phoenix Economic Council president and CEO Chris Camacho credited the Valley's recruitment of high-wage jobs in the semiconductor, software and bioscience sectors, which are luring an educated workforce here.

  • "When individuals of talent are mobile and have choices, they're flocking to places of opportunity and places they want to live," he tells Axios Phoenix.

By the numbers: Median household income rose by about 4% statewide between 2019 and 2022, and increased almost 6% in metro Phoenix.

  • The 2022 median income was $74,568 statewide and $82,884 in the Valley.

Reality check: While our incomes are growing, our statewide median still lags slightly behind the national average of $74,755.

  • Meanwhile, many other big metros — including Denver, Austin and Minneapolis — boast significantly higher median incomes.
Change in the share of Phoenix metro area households, by income
Data: U.S. Census; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Zoom in: While metro Phoenix saw an 8 percentage point increase in the number of households making more than $100,000, about 30% still make less than $49,000 and almost half earn under $74,000.

Threat level: In Phoenix, you need to make $116,300 annually to afford the median home, $57,300 for a two-bedroom apartment and $47,400 for a one-bedroom apartment, according to a recent analysis by Valley real estate firm Elliott D. Pollack & Company.

Between the lines: Kelly McGowan, interim executive director of anti-poverty organization Wildfire, tells Axios Phoenix that income gains over the past few years have been trumped by rising home prices and inflation.

What they're saying: "There's a complexity to this data that's not reflective of what households, and particularly low-income households, are experiencing on a day-to-day basis," McGowan says.

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