Household Income In WA Went Up During Pandemic, Census Finds

SEATTLE — Median household income grew in Washington in 2021, compared with two years earlier before the start of the pandemic, according to a new report from the Census Bureau.

Nationally, median household income remained about the same in 2021 versus pre-pandemic 2019, increasing a meager $78 to $69,717, according to American Community Survey responses. The last time median household income flat lined or went down was in 2013.

At the same time, the so-called “Gini index,” which measures wealth and income inequality, increased by 0.8 percent nationally. The wealth gap also widened in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

Survey responses from 2020 were thrown out of the comparison. Responses were down during pandemic disruptions, and those who did respond had statistically different social, economic and housing situations than those who did, leading to “unreasonable estimates,” the Census Bureau said.

Washington was among 10 that bucked the national trend with statistically significant increases in household income, and gains around the Seattle metro were even more pronounced. Statewide, the median household income was $84,247 in 2021, compared with $83,390 in 2019. The Gini index in Washington increased by 2.8 percent.

As The Seattle Times reports, median household incomes around King, Pierce and Snohomish counties soared past $100,000 in 2021, from about 94,000 in 2019, making Seattle-area incomes the nation’s fourth-highest among major metros, behind only San Jose, San Francisco and Washington, D.C

Importantly, the report looks at median rather than average income. The median is the middle point in the data set that includes income distribution above and below it, including those without income.

The Gini index ranges from 0 to 1, with 0 representing perfect equality with a proportional distribution of income, and 1 representing perfect inequality, according to the report.

Some other findings: