How much purchasing power have Americans lost in the last decade?

Inflation has surpassed the increase in the median income of American households by 0.12% in the last decade.

That is the short answer.

The long answer is that it depends on the state you are. Because income and prices have not changed the same way everywhere.

Purchasing Power

Let’s take a look at the changes that have occurred in the last decade.

Desktop static version

This visualization uses data from the US Census Bureau for median household income and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) for data on the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

It is worth noting that the CPI data of the BLS includes the prices of food and energy, unlike the CPI used by the Federal Reserve in the past, which did not contain them.

At the national level, the median income of American households (that is, those that are exactly in the middle of the list) has grown 20.62% in the last ten years. From $ 46,242 to $ 55,775, which represents an increase of $ 9,533.

On the other side, the CPI has grown by 20.73% over the same period. The difference between the two gives us the previously mentioned value of 0.12%

The main culprit of this number seems to be the financial crisis of 2008. In the four years after the crisis, the purchasing power of American households fell by 8.31%.

Just by 2012, the change in median income exceeded the CPI once more, with a difference of 0.02%.

However, not all states were losers in the last ten years. And many others were affected to a greater extent than national statistics show.

For example, the District of Columbia presented an increase of 28.02% in its purchasing power.

If we only include the states, North Dakota was the big winner with an increase of 20.88%. Followed by its southern neighbor with 7.92%.

On the other hand, Nevada was the most affected state in the last decade, with a reduction in its purchasing power of 16.61%. Followed by Georgia with a decrease of 13.21%. Florida, Rhode Island, and Michigan also reported reductions of over 10%.

In total, 33 states had reductions in their purchasing power greater than 1%, 12 of them had increases greater than 1%, and 5 ranged between -1% and 1%.

At a regional level, the highest price increases occurred in the western United States, with a cumulative CPI of 22.06% in the last decade. The south followed closely with 22.02%. The northeast and midwest had increases of 21.32% and 18.49% respectively.

Did you find this data interesting? Share your thoughts, suggestions, or questions in the comments below! Or follow me on Twitter at @Davkett1 for new articles and stuff.


Income in the past 12 months (in inflation-adjusted dollars), Yearly American Community Survey 1-Year Estimates, United States Census Bureau.

Yearly Consumer Price Index Detailed Report Tables, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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