Are you wondering what a good salary is for a single person?
Perhaps you just got a new job, and you’re hoping it will pay enough to support an upgrade in your lifestyle. Or maybe you simply want to see if you’re on the right track to achieving your financial goals.
Regardless of your reason, understanding what determines a good salary for a single person is very important and a great place to start.
According to CNBC, nearly two-thirds of Americans have been living paycheck to paycheck and struggling to cover their basic needs.
So, what is a good salary for a single person to live comfortably without being included in this statistic? Continue reading to find out!
What Is a Good Salary for a Single Person?
A good salary for a single person largely depends on where they live.
For example, a good salary for a single person living in Hawaii is going to be far more than a good salary for a single person living in Mississippi. This is mainly due to the cost of living.
The living wage for a single person who lives in Hawaii and has no children is $21.99 per hour, while the living wage for the same person living in Mississippi would only be $15.66. We will discuss living wage shortly.
That said, a good salary for a single person can be defined as a salary higher than the national median household income, which is $67,521.
Because this is typically based on multiple incomes, we can safely say a single person earning as much or even more has a good salary and makes enough for them to live comfortably and cover all living expenses.
To take it a step further, instead of looking at the national median household income, we can look at the median household income of the state they live in.
To put it in perspective, the median household income in Maryland is $94,384, while the median household income in Mississippi is only $44,966.
As you can see, a good salary for a single person living in Maryland is drastically different than a good salary for a single person living in Mississippi.
What Determines a Good Salary for a Single Person?
Aside from where they live, there are several other factors that determine a good salary for a single person, such as their lifestyle, goals, and financial obligations.
For example, do they have a lot of debt? A good salary for a single person who is debt-free may be less than a good salary for a single person with $200,000 in debt.
That said, here are several financial obligations and costs that contribute to what a good salary for a single person is:
- Housing (rent or mortgage)
- Emergency fund
- Credit card payments
- Student loan repayment
- Retirement savings
- Charitable giving
- Physical health and fitness
- Hobbies and entertainment
- Vacation fund
As you can see, a good salary for a single person is very unique to their own situation. It simply comes down to how much they need to earn to live a comfortable life while also covering their financial obligations.
Keep in mind that where the single person lives will typically impact the costs of the items mentioned above. Furthermore, their ethnicity, gender, age, and health will also affect costs, such as insurance.
What Is the Average Salary for a Single Person?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the first quarter of 2021, median weekly earnings were $1,089 for men and $900 for women.
This equates to an average annual salary of $56,628 for men and $46,800 for women.
If this sounds a bit high, keep in mind that these annual salaries are “averages” and not “medians.” An average is calculated by dividing the sum of the data set by the amount of numbers.
In terms of average annual salaries, a few high-income earners (outliers) can push this number up drastically. As a result, it will seem like everyone is earning much more than they actually are.
On the other hand, a median is a value that lies at the midpoint of a distribution of the observed values. Unlike an average, a median is not thrown off by statistical anomalies.
Considering this, median earnings are a much more accurate representation of a single person’s actual salary.
What Is a Livable Salary in the US for a Single Person?
According to Investopedia, livable salary (living wage) is a term that “refers to a theoretical income level that allows individuals or families to afford adequate shelter, food, and other necessities.” This theoretical income level varies based on where the individuals or families live.
For example, the living wage for a single person who lives in Hawaii and has no children is $21.99 per hour. This is because shelter, food, and other necessities are very expensive in Hawaii.
On the other hand, the living wage for a single person living in a city with a low cost of living, Mississippi, for example, and also has no children, is only $15.66 per hour.
That said, living wage is not to be confused with minimum wage. Unlike living wage, minimum wage is the lowest amount an employer can pay their employees and is determined by state law.
States with the highest living wage for a single person are:
- Washington, DC (not a state): $22.07 per hour
- Hawaii: $21.99 per hour
- Massachusetts: $21.88 per hour
States with the lowest living wage for a single person are:
- Kentucky: $15.46 per hour
- West Virginia: $15.45 per hour
- South Dakota: $14.85 per hour
To determine the living wage for a state, city, or metro area, you can use the calculator found at livingwage.mit.edu.
What Is Middle-Class Income for a Single Person?
According to Pew Research Center, the middle-class is “those with an income that is two-thirds to double the U.S. median household income.”
Considering this, middle-class income for a single person in the United States is between $30,000 and $90,000 in 2020 dollars.
What Is Considered Low-Income for a Single Person?
To determine what is considered low-income for a single person, we must first define low-income. For the purpose of this article, let’s define it as the poverty threshold.
The poverty threshold, also known as the poverty line, poverty limit, and breadline, is the lowest possible income that is still deemed adequate in a specific country.
The poverty threshold is typically calculated using the estimated total cost of one year’s necessities for the number of people in a household.
Considering this, according to the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, low-income or poverty guideline for a single person was $12,880 or less in 2021.
What Is the Average Retirement Income for a Single Person?
According to US Census Bureau data, the median average retirement income for retirees 65 years old and up was $47,357 in 2021. However, the average mean retirement income was $73,228.
While this doesn’t completely capture the complexities of the economy in 2022, it does provide us with an understanding of the household incomes of retirees in the United States.
Again, remember that the discrepancy between these numbers results from the difference between “average’ and “median.”
The “average mean” is skewed to the higher side because a select few retirees have much higher retirement incomes than the rest.
This significant difference between the “median average” and “average mean” of retirement incomes is an excellent example of why it’s essential to evaluate different data points before making a conclusion.
The median average retirement income of $47,357 is a much better figure to evaluate when determining a good salary for the average single person after retirement.
How Much Does a Single Person Have to Earn to Live in Each State?
Now that you know what a good salary for a single person is and what determines it, here is a breakdown state-by-state.
Note: This is the living wage for each state and not what a good salary for a single person is. Living wages were provided by the calculator found at livingwage.mit.edu.
To determine what a good salary is for a single person living in a specific state, simply multiply the state’s annualized living wage by 2.
For example, if you want to know what a good salary is for a single person living in Alaska, multiply Alaska’s annualized living wage of $31,325 by 2, which is $62,650.
We can now safely say a good salary for a single person living in Alaska is $62,650.
- Alabama: $28,642 a year or $13.77 per hour
- Alaska: $31,325 a year or $15.06 per hour
- Arizona: $31,075 a year or $14.94 per hour
- Arkansas: $27,643 a year or $13.29 per hour
- California: $38,813 a year or $18.66 per hour
- Colorado: $34,008 a year or $16.35 per hour
- Connecticut: $33,238 a year or $15.98 per hour
- Delaware: $31,865 a year or $15.32 per hour
- Florida: $30,826 a year or $14.82 per hour
- Georgia: $31,949 a year or $15.36 per hour
- Hawaii: $40,414 a year or $19.43 per hour
- Idaho: $29,016 a year or $13.95 per hour
- Illinois: $31,970 a year or $15.37 per hour
- Indiana: $27,955 a year or $13.44 per hour
- Iowa: $28,330 a year or $13.62 per hour
- Kansas: $28,101 a year or $13.51 per hour
- Kentucky: $28,038 a year or $13.48 per hour
- Louisiana: $29,245 a year or $14.06 per hour
- Maine: $31,034 a year or $14.92 per hour
- Maryland: $35,880 a year or $17.25 per hour
- Massachusetts: $36,899 a year or $17.74 per hour
- Michigan: $28,350 a year or $13.63 per hour
- Minnesota: $30,880 a year or $14.90 per hour
- Mississippi: $27,934 a year or $13.43 per hour
- Missouri: $28,537 a year or $13.72 per hour
- Montana: $28,995 a year or $13.94 per hour
- Nebraska: $28,225 a year or $13.57 per hour
- Nevada: $28,443 a year or $13.67 per hour
- New Hampshire: $30,097 a year or $14.47 per hour
- New Jersey: $33,696 a year or $16.20 per hour
- New Mexico: $29,057 a year or $13.97 per hour
- New York: $38,729 a year or $18.62 per hour
- North Carolina: $30,617 a year or $14.72 per hour
- North Dakota: $27,206 a year or $13.08 per hour
- Ohio: $27,373 a year or $13.16 per hour
- Oklahoma: $28,142 a year or $13.53 per hour
- Oregon: $35,048 a year or $16.85 per hour
- Pennsylvania: $27,851 a year or $13.39 per hour
- Rhode Island: $30,763 a year or $14.79 per hour
- South Carolina: $30,326 a year or $14.58 per hour
- South Dakota: $26,299 a year or $12.61 per hour
- Tennessee: $27,560 a year or $13.25 per hour
- Texas: $29,140 a year or $14.01 per hour
- Utah: $30,201 a year or $14.52 per hour
- Vermont: $31,054 a year or $14.93 per hour
- Virginia: $34,549 a year or $16.61 per hour
- Washington: $33,987 a year or $16.34 per hour
- West Virginia: $27,830 a year or $13.38 per hour
- Wisconsin: $29,162 a year or $14.02 per hour
- Wyoming: $27,435 a year or $13.19 per hour
Note: These are the states living wages from a few years ago, which MIT has recently updated. However, as a result of recent inflation, living wages are likely even higher than currently reported.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are a few frequently asked questions about what a good salary is for a single person:
What Is a Good Salary for a Single Person in Texas?
According to MIT, a single person living in Texas needs to earn $16.41 per hour or $34,133 a year in order to make a living wage.
Assuming a good wage is at least double the living wage, we can safely say $68,266 is a good, if not excellent, annual salary for a single person living in Texas.
What Is a Good Salary for a Single Person in Florida?
According to MIT, a single person living in Florida must earn $17.24 per hour or $35,859 a year to make a living wage.
Assuming a good wage is at least double the living wage, we can safely say $71,718 is a good annual salary for a single person living in Florida.
What Is a Good Salary for a Single Person in Illinois?
According to MIT, a single person living in Illinois needs to earn $18.16 per hour or $37,773 a year in order to make a living wage.
Assuming a good wage is at least double the living wage, we can safely say $75,546 is a good, if not excellent, annual salary for a single person living in Illinois.
What Is a Good Salary for a single Person in New York?
According to MIT, a single person living in New York must earn $21.99 per hour or $45,739 a year to make a living wage.
Assuming a good wage is at least double the living wage, we can safely say $91,478 is a good annual salary for a single person living in New York.
What Is a Good Salary for a Single Person in Ohio?
According to MIT, a single person living in Ohio needs to earn $15.61 per hour or $32,469 a year in order to make a living wage.
Assuming a good wage is at least double the living wage, we can safely say $64,938 is a good, if not excellent, annual salary for a single person living in Ohio.
Final Words on What a Good Salary Is for a Single Person
As explained above, no specific annual salary is good for every person who is currently single. To determine what a good salary is for you, there are several factors you need to consider.
These factors include where you live, your housing situation, your lifestyle, and your financial obligations. However, there are other factors, such as your age.
A good salary for a single person who just graduated high school will likely look much different than a good salary for a single person in their early thirties.
That said, where you live is undoubtedly the most impactful of these factors.
Cost of living, for example, can fluctuate drastically from state to state and city to city. For instance, the cost of living in Hawaii is more than double that of many other places.
Because of this, a single person living in Hawaii will need a much higher salary to live comfortably than a single person living in a state where the cost of living is relatively low.