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U.S. Census Bureau FAQs
What is the difference between households and families?

A family consists of two or more people (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption residing in the same housing unit. A household consists of all people who occupy a housing unit regardless of relationship. A household may consist of a person living alone or multiple unrelated individuals or families living together. For a more detailed definition, see the Income Home Page section on definitions.

What is the difference between a median and a mean?

Median income is the amount which divides the income distribution into two equal groups, half having income above that amount, and half having income below that amount. Mean income (average) is the amount obtained by dividing the total aggregate income of a group by the number of units in that group. The means and medians for households and families are based on all households and families. Means and medians for people are based on people 15 years old and over with income. For a more detailed definition, see the Income Home Page section on definitions.

What is the income of the middle class? 

The Bureau of the Census does not have an official definition of middle class; it does, however, derive several measures related to the distribution of income and income inequality. For more information see the Income Home Page section on income inequality (middle class).

Do you have income data by quintile, decile, or percentile?

Quintile data and data for the top 5 percent are available for households and families. For tables showing these data, see the Income Home page section on detailed income historical tables or the section on Income Inequality (middle class) Data Highlights.

How much money does a woman earn compared to a man?

Based on median earnings of full-time year-round workers, the female-to-male earnings ratio in 1997 was .74. For historical data on this subject see the Income Home page section on detailed historical income tables.

Do you have income for my census tract, zip code, town, metro area, county, and state?

Data on income by geographic areas are available from the 1990 Census of Population. Printed reports should be available in your library, or use the data access tools on the Census Bureau Home Page and select 1990 census lookup. You may also select 1990 census lookup from the Income Home Page. Then select either STF3A, STF3B, STF3C-1, STF3C-2, or STF3D and follow the directions on screen.

Do you have income for the elderly?

1997 median income for people 65 years old and over is $12,744. Data are also available for males and females separately. For more information on income by age, see the Income Home Page section on detailed income historical tables.

How can I access income historical data or microdata files on the Internet?

If you are having trouble accessing our data, please send a message to hhes-info@census.gov for instructions.

How can I download your data?

If you are having trouble downloading our data, please send a message to hhes-info@census.gov for instructions.

What is your agency contact information?

Contact the Income Statistics Branch at (301) 457-3212 for further information.

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