Median household income in the U.S. was $61,372 at the end of 2017, according to the Census Bureau. When inflation is taken into account, that is just above the 1999 level. Without adjusting for inflation, over the three decades through 2017, incomes are up 135%.
Average tuition at public four-year colleges, however, went up 549%, not adjusted for inflation, according to data from the College Board. On the same basis, average per capita personal health-care expenditures rose about 276% over a slightly shorter period, 1990 to 2017, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
And average housing prices swelled 188% over those three decades, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller National Home Price Index.
“The costs of staying in the middle class are going up,” said Adam Levitin, a Georgetown Law professor who studies bankruptcy, financial regulation and consumer finance.