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Report Number P60-30

Average (median) family income in the United States was estimated at $5,000 in 1957, or about 4 percent higher than in 1956, according to estimates, released today by the Bureau of the Census, Department of Commerce. However, this $200 gain in money income between 1956 and 1957 probably represented no significant change in purchasing power for the average family, since prices also rose substantially during this period.1

The average income of nonfarm families rose by about 3 percent over the year, largely because of further increases in wage rates in most industries. In the case of the farm population, other evidence indicates that a rise in income over the year was due partly to increased earnings from nonfarm work. A growing number of farm families derive at least part of their income from employment off the farm.

Of the Nation's 44 million families, about 4 million, or one-tenth, received incomes of $10,000 or more, and an additional 18 million, or two-fifths, had incomes ranging between $5,000 and $10,000. At the other end of the income scale, 6 1/2 million, or 15 percent, had incomes under $2,000. The remaining 15 1/2 million were in the $2,000-to-$5,000 bracket. The distribution of families (groups of two or more related persons) by their income in 1957 is shown in table A.

1 The Consumer Price Index of the Department of Labor averaged 116.2 in 1956 and 120.2 in 1957.

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.

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