For the country as a whole, the average (median) income of families in 1960 was $5,600; but, for families headed by persons 65 years and over, the average was only $2,900, according to estimates released today by the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce. The all-family average was $200, or 4 percent, higher than in 1959, despite the downturn in economic activity in the closing months of 1960. Since prices rose somewhat between 1959 and 1960, the gain in real purchasing power of the median family in the United States, however, was only about 2 percent.1
The postwar period has been characterized by a significant rise in family incomes and the upward trend continued into 1960. Since 1947, average total family income in current dollars has increased from $3,000 to $5,600, or by 85 percent. However, consumer prices have risen substantially during the period so that only about one-half of the increase in current-dollar incomes represented an increase in purchasing power. In terms of constant (1960) dollars, the median family income increased from $4,000 in 1947 to $5,600 in 1960, or by 40 percent. This represented a rate of growth that averaged about 2 1/2 percent per year over this period.
1 The Consumer Price Index of the Department of Labor averaged 124.6 in 1959 and 126.5 in 1960.
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.