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Income of Families and Persons in the United States: 1961

Report Number P60-39

For the country as a whole, the average (median) income of families in 1961 was about $5,700; but for families headed by college graduates, the average was $9,300, according to estimates released today by the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce. The all-family average was $120, or 2 percent, higher than in 1960. Consumer prices rose during this period by about 1 percent; therefore, any increase in family income greater than this amount represented a net gain in purchasing power for the average family.

Average family income has nearly doubled in the postwar period (from $3,000 in 1947 to about $5,700 in 1961). However, consumer prices have risen substantially during the period so that only three-fifths of the increase in current-dollar incomes represented an increase in purchasing power. In terms of constant (1961) dollars, average family income increased from about $4,100 in 1947 to $5,700 in 1961, a rise that averaged approximately $120 a year over this period.

The number of families with money incomes below $3,000 in 1961, although unchanged from the previous year, has decreased markedly since 1947. About 10 million families received money incomes under $3,000 in 1961. This represented a drop of about 8 1/2 million since 1947. In relative terms, the proportion of families in the cash income range under $3,000 has decreased from one-half in 1947 to about one-fifth in 1961.

A Note on Language

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.

Page Last Revised - October 8, 2021
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