Average (median) family income in the United States was estimated at $4,400 in 1955, or about 6 percent higher than in 1954, according to estimates released today by the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce. This increase probably represented a significant gain in purchasing power for the average family, since prices were fairly stable during this period, according to the Consumer Price Index.
The average income of nonfarm families increased by about 7 percent over the year, largely because of wage rate increases and greater regularity of employment among nonagricultural workers. In contrast, the average income of rural-farm families did not change significantly in 1955. The stability in the income of farm families despite a drop in farm prices is due largely to their increased earnings from nonfarm work. A large proportion of the farm population derives at least part of its income from employment off the farm.
Of the Nation's 43 million families, about 18 million, or two-fifths, received incomes of $5,000 or more in 1955 while 7 1/2 million, or one-fifth, had incomes under $2,000. The remaining 17 1/2 million families were in the $2,000-$5,000 bracket. The distribution of families (groups of two or more related persons) by their income in 1955 is shown in table A.
Census statistics date back to 1790 and reflect the growth and change of the United States. Past census reports contain some terms that today’s readers may consider obsolete and inappropriate. As part of our goal to be open and transparent with the public, we are improving access to all Census Bureau original publications and statistics, which serve as a guide to the nation's history.