The estimated yearly average wage for full- and part-time U.S. workers is $49,630, according to the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data. But that’s not necessarily the number to focus on.
If you’re planning on negotiating your pay, it helps to know how others like you are getting compensated. However, median wage data is a better measure of typical income than average salary in the U.S. because high or low outliers can distort the average. Median earnings for full-time wage and salaried workers are $859 a week, according to July 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The data doesn’t include yearly earnings, but multiply the weekly amount by 52 and you get $44,668 a year. Keep in mind, however, that not all full-time workers will work or be paid for all 52 weeks of the year.
Still, you need to dive deeper to get a true sense of how your earnings compare to others like you. Median earnings vary by age and occupation, as well as gender, race, education and location. Here’s how median earnings break down by those characteristics, plus tips for negotiating for a higher salary if yours doesn’t stack up.
Median weekly earnings by gender
Women working full-time wage or salary jobs earn about 84% of what their male counterparts earn, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the second quarter of 2017, median weekly earnings for men age 16 and over were $934, or roughly $48,568 a year, while median weekly earnings for women age 16 and over were $780, or about $40,560 a year.
The extent of the pay gap differs by race and ethnicity. Black men and women’s earnings are most closely aligned with each other, while Asian men and women have the largest disparity in their earnings.
Median weekly earnings by race and ethnicity
Among racial and ethnic groups, Asians have the highest median weekly earnings and Hispanics have the lowest. Median weekly earnings for black men were about 73% of the median weekly earnings for white men, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The median weekly earnings for black women were about 84% of the median weekly earnings for white women.
Note: The yearly amounts in this table are the weekly median earnings multiplied by 52. However, not all full-time workers will work all 52 weeks of the year.
Median weekly earnings by education level
Earnings tend to increase with education. Getting a bachelor’s degree gives you the largest jump in income between degrees, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The median weekly earnings for workers age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree only were $471 higher than the median weekly earnings for their counterparts who only had a high school diploma.
Note: The yearly amounts in this table are the weekly median earnings multiplied by 52. However, not all people will work all 52 weeks of the year.
Median hourly wage by metropolitan area
Location affects compensation because many companies set pay rates in part based on the city’s cost of living. Check the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website for earnings data for all states and metropolitan areas. Here we list earnings data for the 20 most populous metro areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 population estimates.
Note that the wages in this table come from a different Bureau of Labor Statistics source than the earnings in the first three tables. This data includes both full- and part-time employees, while the figures in the first three tables just include full-time workers.
How to negotiate if your salary doesn’t stack up
When you’re negotiating for a higher salary, it’s crucial to know your market value, or what others in your area are getting paid in similar roles. These resources can help when researching your market value:
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook shows the median pay, projected number of new jobs and the projected growth rate for each occupation
- PayScale asks you to complete a survey and then gives estimates for what you should be earning in your current job. You’ll also learn what you could expect to earn in other jobs based on your experience and location.
- Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool uses self-reported salary information to estimate what you should be paid at your company and in your city
Once you’ve done this research, let the data speak for itself. When you’re negotiating, try saying, “I researched what others with my experience earn in this industry, and based on that, I expect to earn $X.”
Negotiating may be intimidating, but being prepared for the conversation will give you the confidence boost you need to ask for what you’re worth.