What Is a Good Salary in The US? [+Average Salaries 2023]

Before you accept a job offer or start a negotiation for an average salary, it’s necessary to know what is a good salary in the US. Understanding compensation levels in the US can be complex since they all vary depending on many factors, particularly the location. Whether you’re choosing a career, negotiating a starting salary, or asking for a raise, knowing the appropriate pay range for your experience, industry, and location is helpful.

In the US, an annual salary between $70,000 – $78,000 before tax ($5,800 – $6,500 monthly) is considered to be a good wage in any state. With that income, in a middle-sized American city like Portland, you can afford a two-bedroom apartment close to the city center, have a car, shop, eat out, and travel around on weekends.

In this article, we give you a better understanding of salary levels in the US and which median income is sufficient to live on. You will also learn which salary to expect in various US cities and what your average recurring expenses will be, and which factors influence your financial goals.

What is a good salary in the US per month according to labor statistics?

What is a good salary per month based on the US labor statistics?

In the US, an annual salary between $70,000 – $78,000 before tax is considered to be a good salary in any state. With that income, in a middle-sized American city like Portland, you can afford a two-bedroom apartment close to the city center, have a car, shop, eat out, and travel around on weekends.

This annual salary translates to a monthly income between $5,800 and $6,500. It’s higher than the average wage both in Portland and across the US. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average American income salary in 2020 was $56,310.

Furthermore, it’s a good salary for single wage earners, giving you a decent standard of living. A couple can also live comfortably on that income. Yet, a family will likely need around $100,000 to enjoy a good standard of living. For instance, with an annual salary in the U.S of $100,000, one can buy a house and car and certainly support a small family.

If we take the city of Los Angeles, a comfortable income of a middle-class family with one earner and two kids will be around $125,000. Having more disposable income will bring the family an upper-middle-class position, which means an increase to about $150,000 annual salary.

Generally, salaries in the US range significantly. You can earn as little as $20,000 and up to $300,000 in a top position. Many factors can affect the amount of pay you receive besides the location. It includes a level of education or type of degree, professional experience, skills, and even gender.

For better estimates, check legitimate resources about salaries in the US. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the best source for stats on wages in the US.

What will be your standard expenses with a good median wage in the US?

Standard expenses based on a good median wage in the US

The salaries in the US have to be high, particularly in large cities, so that workers can pay taxes and other mandatory expenses.

Typically, a 27-year-old living in California with a $100,000 yearly gross salary (or $8,333 monthly) will pay only in taxes:

  • Federal withholding taxes: $1,200
  • Social Security taxes: $516
  • Medicare: $120
  • California taxes: $586
  • CA SDI: $75 
  • Monthly Net Pay: $5,833.70 

Consequently, the monthly net pay ends up at $5,833. 

Also, consider the following obligatory expenses:

Also read: Why UK salaries are much lower American?

New York vs US

New York city skycraper

New York is by far the most expensive place in the US, but it also offers high percentage salaries.

  • The cost of living in New York is 129% higher than the national average
  • The average rent is $3,475 for an apartment in Manhattan, while a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan costs $3,100 a month
  • Hence, 40% of adult renters in New York City were living with a roommate
  • A gallon of milk in New York, for instance, costs $4.53 on average versus the median salaries cost of about $3.50
  • Gym costs $100 per month
  • A basic dinner for two people at a neighborhood pub costs an average of $57 
  • Men’s/women’s standard haircut costs $26 on average
  • A monthly public-transit ticket is $121 – the most expensive in the country
  • Consumers pay a total of 8.5% sales tax to shop in New York City when it ranges from 0.03% to 5.14% across the US
  • Housing is 369% higher than the average American income. 
  • The median home value in the five boroughs of New York City is closer to $650,000

Location determines your salary 

In the US, salaries and understanding how salary compares depend a lot on the location. For example, the lowest earnings among workers with Bachelor’s degrees are in Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, South Dakota, and Vermont.

Bonuses, holiday pay and remuneration packages

Bonuses can make up a significant piece of your average American income. In fact, some jobs are highly reliable on regular bonuses, such as professions in sales. For some people, it can only be $50,000 – $100,000 in the yearly bonus.

Studies have shown that happiness decreases when individuals reach income of around $70,000. So maybe you don’t need such high salary.

Good Salary in the US

A close-up of the US dollar

Income level depends on the job, employer, education, experience, and, more importantly, the city where you work in the US. Salaries are divided as follows: the highest 10% of earners make more than $169,070 per year, while the bottom 10% of workers make less than $56,880.

The US is known for its high salaries in some sectors; hence, if you are willing to pursue a career, American companies can provide great opportunities and a very high income.

According to the statistics, income in the US is unequal, with a difference of $124,056 in average salaries among various jobs. Wages range from $24,000 (lowest average) to $423,000 (highest average)

In fact:

  • About 34,1% of Americans earn over $100,000
  • 15,5% of the population makes between $100,000 and $149,999
  • 8,3% of Americans make between $150,000 and $199,999
  • 10,3% of the US population has an annual salary over $200,000 

What salary will you get in Europe? Read more about salaries in Europe.

Average salary in the US

Seal of the United States

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the national average salary of a full-time worker in 2022 is $54,132.

The US’s median salary is often measured as a household’s total median income, which doesn’t represent individual earnings. The household’s average median income is $83,886 before tax.

For households:

  • 16.5% of US households have median salaries between $50,000 and $74,999
  • 15.3% – $100,000 to $149,999
  • 11.6% – $35,000 to $49,999 (Source: Zippia.com)
  • Read a comprehensive article about average American salaries.

1. Highly skilled, high-level professionals

 (Consulting, Banking, IT)

In this job category, employees can achieve high-level salaries, particularly in large American companies and in major cities.

Tech or finance companies have higher profit margins and are often backed by investors. Therefore, they can afford higher salaries. For example, a regular salary for a developer in Silicon Valley can easily be $150,000. 

2. Other highly skilled jobs

 (Electrical Engineering, Mechanical engineering, Chemical Engineering)

Middle-level skilled jobs provide an average income between $55,000 and $90,000 a year. It also depends on certain industries. People with years of experience and good educational backgrounds can have higher incomes than high school diploma holders.

3. Low-skilled jobs 

(Junior workers)

Skilled trade professionals have relatively lower compensation than a significant role in the US, with an average salary of between $30,000 and $60,000 are the most common.

Average salary by age & gender

The average salary in the US is affected by factors like age group and career, so men earn more than women. Data shows that women earned more money or good income with higher education level, age and industry, amongst other factors. 


Average salary in education

A doctoral degree often pays off in the same field of study as a high school diploma. For example, a worker with a master’s degree in health and medical preparatory programs will typically earn more percentage than with a bachelor’s degree in the same field.

Experience level

In general, your skill set will award you higher pay and scale advanced positions. Mid-aged Americans (35-44) usually achieve financial stability fast due to higher pay and salary increases. According to Georgetown University’s CEW, from ages 25-34, the median wage of a professional in the STEM industry is $60,000 and will increase to a median salary of $90,000 by ages 45-59.

Geographic location

Salaries in the US depends on geographical location

As we mentioned above, various locations in the metro area will significantly impact good income in the US. Hence, even when a job title, experience, and education level are the same, salary will range depending on the city or state and current employer. Remote work is awarded differently. 

How much money does the average American earn a month?

In the average city in the US, a typical annual salary for a middle-class worker with a Bachelor’s degree is around $70,000 before taxes.

Individual income varies widely, depending on the position, whether one works full-time or part-time, educational background, and at most on location. The income in the US also varies by age, race, gender, and college graduates.

To live comfortably in the US, a household’s income should be $70,000 every second quarter. However, most Americans are only earning an average income of $63,000, while some single people get the highest pay. 

Curious about the differences between life in Germany and the US? Read about living in the US vs Germany in this article.

What are the highest-paying jobs in the US?

Doctors are one of the highest-paying workers in the US

As anywhere else, not all jobs offer equal salaries; it’s particularly noticeable in the US, with an incredible money gap. So physicians can earn $300k and low-skilled labor $20k.

Therefore, some of the highest-earning jobs in the US are in the medical sector, high-level management, finance, law, engineering, and science.

Is $80k a good salary in the US?

A $80k salary is considered significantly above average and an upper-middle-class salary. You can comfortably on that salary in any state. $56,000 is the average household salary in the US.

A couple can also live a comfortable but not extravagant credit card debt with that income. For a family with kids, it’s still a solid income but doesn’t leave you much room for saving or leisure.

Is $70k median household income a good salary in the US?

A median household income of  $70,000 is above the average and median income in the US. Yearly gross income of $70,000 or $3,500 after monthly tax surpasses the median income for individuals and households ($56,000). 

Cost of living in the US

What will be your monthly expenses when working and making a living in the US? Similar to earnings, living costs largely depend on a city and state. Hence, cities with the highest salaries also have some of the highest prices (New York is a living example).

Nonetheless, a person needs about $29,118 a year ($2,426 monthly) to live in Brownsville, Texas. In San Francisco, California, they will need more than double of its $69,072 ($5,756 monthly) to maintain a similar lifestyle. 


Public Housing and HOPE VI in Washington DC

House prices in the US range widely, with some incredible numbers in New York. Yet, some American states are insanely cheap to purchase real estate.

Statistics show that the average American spends $20,679 on housing annually, or about $1,723 monthly. The average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2020 was $1,098.


Food in US are expensive

Food in the US is on the European/Western average, but some items can be cheaper or more expensive. Americans spend, on average, $148 weekly or $592 monthly on groceries for two people. Singles on a moderate budget spend around $244 per month.

Health care costs in the US

In 2021, the average monthly cost of health insurance in the US was $495. The average cost of individual health insurance for a 40-year-old across all policies was $495. The cheapest premium you can get in the US is $313. 

We recommend taking out affordable coverage from Cigna. You can adjust the policy to your needs and save money that way. Cigna is a US-based insurance provider with 74,000 employees, 200 years of experience, and more than 100 million customers globally.

Taxes in the US

Taxes in the US are lower than Europe

On average, Americans pay around 30% in taxes. Taxes in the US are considerably lower than in other developed countries, especially those in Europe. Social Security and Medicare taxes are deducted directly from the salary. Contributions are made by both you and your employer in accordance with your earnings.

Income tax

The US has a progressive tax system, meaning people with higher taxable incomes have higher federal income tax rates. Income tax rates in the US range from 10% to 37%.

Compared to other countries, the US doesn’t have tax-free amounts, meaning you will pay taxes when earning any amount. The lowest rate of 10% applies for the income bracket from $0 to $9,875. The term Federal taxes is common in the US, where there are 7 different tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35%, and 37%. 

American social security

Payroll taxes contribute to social security for every employee in the US. The amount is withheld from their money throughout the year.

These taxes include social security and Medicare. Both employers and employees share obligations for paying social security contributions at a combined rate of 15.3%. Social Security tax applies only to the first $142,800 of wages in 2021, whereas Medicare is mandatory.

For social security, the tax rate is 6,20% for employers and employees or 12,4%. Yet, the maximum withholding amount for that tax is $8,853.60 in 2021. The rate for Medicare is 1,45% for both employers and employees (2,9% in total).

Final Thoughts on What Is a Good Salary in The US

In the US, a good salary depends on factors like location, industry, and experience. On average, earning between $70,000 – $78,000 annually before tax is considered good. With this income, you can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle, covering housing, transportation, and leisure activities. However, salaries vary widely, and certain professions, like consulting and IT, can offer even higher incomes. It’s important to consider the cost of living in your chosen city and plan your finances accordingly for a comfortable life.

Similar Posts