Are you feeling wealthier these days? You should be, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau data released Sept. 12.
Indeed, according to the bureau, the U.S. median household income increased to $61,372 in 2017, a 1.8 percent raise from 2016 when the median income was $60,309. This is the third consecutive annual increase in median household income.
When accounting for the greater family household, that income level jumped 1.4 percent from 2016 to $77,713. Real median income for married-couple households was slightly higher, increasing 1.6 percent between 2016 and 2017. (A family household is a household with a householder who is related to a least one other person in the household by birth, marriage or adoption.)
When taking race and Hispanic origin into consideration, Asian households are still the wealthiest group, showing a median income of $81,331 in 2017. The Bureau notes race data refers to people "reporting a single race only."
Non-Hispanic whites ranked second behind Asian household income with $68,145, while Hispanic households earned $50,486, increases of 2.6 percent and 3.7 percent, respectively. Again, this is the third annual increase in median household income for these two groups but "not a statistically significant" increase, the Bureau said.
When it comes to the sexes, the 2017 real median earnings of all male workers - both part-time and full-time - increased 3.0 percent from 2016 to $44,408, while real median earnings for their female counterparts ($31,610) saw no statistically significant change between 2016 and 2017.
For Americans employed full-time, the real median earnings of men in 2017 was $52,146, versus $41,977 for women working full-time, year-round. Both totals actually decreased from their respective 2016 medians by 1.1 percent.
The 2017 female-to-male earnings ratio was 0.805, not statistically different from the 2016 ratio. The difference between the 2016-2017 percentage change in median earnings for men and women working full-time, year-round was not statistically significant.
Even America’s poorest saw modest gains with the poverty rate decreasing 0.4 percentage points in 2017, dropping to 12.3 percent overall or the equivalent of 39.7 million people. To put U.S. poverty in perspective, a family of four with two children under the age of 18 that earns $24,858 or less is considered living in a state of poverty.
Of course, one of the wisest ways to start creating more wealth is owning real estate. And one of the easiest ways to start amassing this type of wealth or equity is owning real versus renting your home or condo.
In some cases, that might mean moving to a more affordable city, something Aloha Realty Group broker Scott Kauffman did more than 20 years ago when he relocated from metro Washington D.C., and moved to Orlando after being recruited by the Orlando Sentinel as a Sports Reporter.
"There are places in metro Orlando where you can easily own a home for the equivalent of what you might be paying in rent,” says Kauffman, one of Orlando’s leading independent full-service brokers with $100 million in closed property sales since 2006. “One ideal place to consider is Lake County near Clermont.”
This is an area, Kauffman points out, where new single homes can be purchased starting in the low $200,000s. By comparison, in the wealthier core Orlando market, the median price of single-family homes increased to $260,000 in September, according to the Orlando Regional Realtor Association. Meanwhile, the median price of condos, townhomes, and villas decreased 3.4 percent in September to $159,450.