What's the Average Income in the United States Now?

By Todd Campbell Markets Fool.com

It can pay off to know where you stand, especially when it comes time to negotiate your next pay raise. While income varies considerably in the U.S., depending on location and industry, Glassdoor's latest local-pay report finds that the median salary for U.S. employees is $51,272, up 2.9% from February 2016.

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Average income by city

Where you live can have a big impact on your pay, and Glassdoor's research shows that wages are growing fastest in Los Angeles and Chicago. In February, median income in those two cities increased by 4% over the previous year, to $59,068 in Los Angeles and $56,277 in Chicago. New York City incomes increased 2.8% year over year to $60,346.

IMAGE SOURCE: GETTY IMAGES.

Income growth in those cities outpaced technology-heavy San Francisco, where median pay grew by a slower 2.5%, or slightly less than the national average, to $65,818. San Francisco's rate of growth has been slipping since last fall; the last time its rate of growth trailed the national increase was two years ago.

Wages in Houston also trailed the national average, improving by 2.2% year over year. Slower wage growth in that market could be due to a drop in oil and gas job growth. Although crude oil prices have recovered some of their losses in the past year, they remain far below their per-barrel peak prices of north of $100:

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WTI Crude Oil Spot Price data by YCharts.

Who's getting the biggest raise?

If you're working in a warehouse, you might be getting a little more money in your paycheck this year.

According to Glassdoor, average incomes for warehouse associates grew 7.5% in the past year to $40,988. Income also rose faster than the national average for recruiters, customer service managers, restaurant cooks, and store managers:

Job

Pay Increase

Annual Pay

Warehouse associate

7.50%

$40,988

Recruiter

6.30%

$51,497

Customer service manager

5.70%

$52,589

Restaurant cook

5.70%

$28,846

Store manager

5.50%

$48,728

Those workers may be getting a little extra in their wallets this year, but it's tougher out there for web developers. In the past year, the median web developer's income has tumbled by 1.2% to $61,846. Construction workers, paralegals, medical technologists, and producers are also seeing their income grow slowly or shrink when compared to a year ago:

Job

Pay Increase

Annual Pay

Construction laborer

1%

$40,019

Paralegal

0.70%

$46,871

Medical technologist

0.30%

$51,894

Producer

(0.70%)

$48,274

Web developer

(1.20%)

$61,846

What jobs pay the most (and least)

Physicians' median base pay of $242,438 per year tops Glassdoor's monthly ranking of top-paying jobs, but you don't need to be an M.D. to rank as one of the best-paid workers in America. Tax managers and product managers are among the highest income earners, too, with median pay of $92,314 and $90,218, respectively.

Careers that don't pay nearly as well as those jobs include pharmacy technicians, bank tellers, and cashiers. Annual pay for those workers are $29,480, $28,188, and $27,204, respectively.

It's what you do with it that matters most

The 2.9% increase in income nationally suggests most workers' wages are climbing, but rising income matters most when that extra money is put to work, rather than squandered.

Admittedly, it's tempting to treat yourself when you get a raise, but in the long term, it may be more rewarding to use that money to build a more financially secure retirement. Contributing your raise to your 401(k) might not be as much fun as a shopping spree, but it can help you achieve a worry-free retirement, without busting your budget.

If you've been holding off on participating in your retirement plan at work, or you're only contributing the minimum, rising incomes may make this the perfect time to play catch-up. Of course, there's a right way and a wrong way to invest, so make sure you take some time to educate yourself on your options. If you do, you might improve the odds of turning that small pay increase now into an envy-inspiring income stream in retirement.

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