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The National Debt Burden per Household

Friday May 13th, 2016   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 9:50am PDT   •  

How has the national debt burden per typical U.S. household changed during the last 8 years?

To answer that question, it might help to know what a typical U.S. household is. For our purposes, a typical American household is one that earns the median household income, which means that 50% of U.S. households earn more than that amount and 50% earn less.

The national debt burden then can be calculated as the ratio of the entire national debt per household to the median household income.

Political Calculations did that math for each year from 1967 through 2015, and graphed the results:

Through the end of Fiscal Year 2015, back on 30 September 2015, we estimate that the ratio of the United States’ total public debt outstanding to the nation’s median household income is approximately 263%. While down slightly from its peak of 267% in 2014, that figure is up considerably from the 170% of median household income that was recorded at the end of Fiscal Year 2008.


Rising from 170% of the median household income to 263% of median household income means that the U.S. national debt per household went up nearly by the amount of the annual income earned by a typical American household in the years from 2008 through 2015.

How many American households do you suppose could actually afford to take on that additional amount of debt?

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May 2016