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What is the average salary in California? Household income by city and county

Some of the most expensive places to live in the entire country are found in California, but typical salaries far exceed the national average.

What is the average salary in California?

California is by some distance the most populous state in the country with 38 million residents, comprising 12% of the United States’ total population. It is also one of the states with the highest costs of living and the highest typical incomes.

Data from the Census Bureau’s 2020 American Community Survey Five-Year Estimates shows that California has numerous cities where the mean household income is in excess of $250,000.

In 2020 California had a median household income of $78,672, an increase on the figure of $75,235 recorded in 2019. The median amount is taken from the middle value in a list of all household incomes, ordered from smallest to largest.

According to the Census Bureau data the mean household salary in California is $111,622, more than $30,000 higher than the median salary. When considering typical salaries, median figures are often preferred by analysts because the mean can be thrown off by a small number of very high earners.

In the past decade the median household income in California has risen by more than 29%, a staggering rate of increase over a fairly short amount of time. However the sudden rise may also speak to the growth of a small number of super-wealthy areas, particularly those that have become a hotbed of action in the technology industry.

Which parts of California have the highest average salaries?

As mentioned some cities in California have a mean household income of more than $250,000, but this is far from consistent across the state. There are major income variations across California and some areas are well below the national average.

A report from CreditKarma studied cities in California with a minimum of 20,000 households to better understand how salaries vary. They found that the cities with the highest median household incomes are Cupertino, Palo Alto, San Ramon, Pleasanton and Dublin.

Those five highest-earning cities are all found in the Bay Area or Silicon Valley. Cupertino, the city with the highest median household income, is in the heart of Silicon Valley and home to the headquarters of Apple.

In these particularly high-paying areas, residents have to contend with a much higher cost of living than most Americans. RentCafe found that the cost of living in San Francisco, for example, is 38% higher than the state average and 94% higher than the national average.


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