Public Assets Institute > Blog > Unlike most states, incomes fell in Vermont

Unlike most states, incomes fell in Vermont

Median household income in Vermont, after adjusting for inflation, fell 2.4 percent last year to $57,513, according to new U.S. Census figures released today. It was Vermont’s second decline in two years for this key economic indicator, although the drop in 2016 was negligible. Only Alaska, where median household income fell 6.3 percent, saw a bigger decline than Vermont last year.

Median household income rose in 40 states in 2017. Nationally, median household income increased 2.5 percent, again after adjusting for inflation. Half of all households have incomes above the median and half have incomes below.

The new household income figures appear to be further evidence that wages may be the real culprit behind the claims that Vermont has affordability problems. A recent analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis showed the prices in Vermont were only slightly higher than the national average, but Vermont wages were well below the average wage nationally. This year the Vermont Legislature passed a bill, which the governor vetoed, that would have increased the minimum wage to $15 by 2024.

In more positive news from the Census, Vermont’s overall poverty rate decreased to 11.3 percent last year from 11.9 percent in 2016. And the poverty rate for children fell a full percentage point, to 13.8 percent in 2017 from 14.8 percent the year before.

The figures released Thursday were from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 2017 1-year estimates.

Posted by Jack Hoffman on September 14, 2018 at 12:35 pm

3 Responses to “Unlike most states, incomes fell in Vermont”

  1. Tim Dreisbach says:

    So the problem in Vermont is not that things are more expensive than elsewhere, but that people do not make enough income.

    Before everyone jumps on a bandwagon to legislate higher wages, ask if companies are paying less than elsewhere to make higher than average profits here, or if they face higher regulatory costs of doing business in Vermont that rule out paying higher wages?

    On the affordability side, while snowplowing and winter related expenses may not cost more per unit in Vermont, maybe we just need more of these things.

  2. Gene Bergman says:


    Can you provide a link to the survey so we can look at it granularly? I’m curious about the wages at the top.

  3. Sarah Lyons says:


    Thanks for your email.

    If you really want to get into the weeds, you can explore all of the Census data here at American FactFinder:

    Click on “advanced search,” then on “show me all,” then you can enter topics you’re interested in (income, wages, poverty, etc.) and the state. I’ll leave that to you, but here are a few tables you may be interested in:

    Here’s median household income for 2017:
    From this table, you can get the numbers for previous years from the column on the left.

    Here’s is a good table with a lot of summary data for the last five years, including inflation-adjusted median household income:

    Here’s a Census table that will give you an idea what’s happening with incomes at different levels:
    This is average income by quintile—and again, you can find data from previous years from the column on the left.

    Finally—and this may be more than you asked for—the Vermont Dept. of Labor has data on wages at various levels—10th, 25th, 50th (median), 75th, and 90th percentiles. They have both hourly and annual figures. Here’s the link to the DOL file for 2017: The file has wages for lots of occupations, but you’re probably just interested in the top line. I’m not finding previous years, but I’m sure they’re available from DOL if you’re interested.

    I hope this is helpful, and please let me know if you have other questions.