Distribution of Income – USA

From the New York Times – Economix column – The US Tax Policy Centre has updated its figures on the income distribution in America, which showed why most rich people don’t feel very rich. They have now crunched income levels for every single percentile, and the numbers refer to 2011 rather than 2010.

Incomes grow much, much faster at the top end of the income distribution than in the middle or at the bottom end. That is, the disparity in income between one percentile and a consecutive percentile is bigger among the very rich. In fact much of the rise in inequality over the last few decades has been because of the increasing inequality isolated among the very top members of the income distribution, as America’s wealthiest have pulled further and further away from their slightly less wealthy peers – see data and graph below.

50th and 51st percentile is $42,327 versus $43,564 = $1,237
98th and 99th percentile is $360,435 versus $506,553 = $146,118
99.5th and 99.9th percentile is $815,868 versus 2,075,574 = $1,259,706

7 thoughts on “Distribution of Income – USA

  1. objectum August 13, 2011 / 1:00 am

    Are there are any historical graphs that we could compare this to in order to see changing distributions in wealth?


    • Jon Love October 21, 2011 / 8:10 am

      Look up Mother Jones, they have lost of graphs on inequitable distribution of income and wealth. the short story is gap has been widening since 1970 – dramatically. Now it is worse than 1920’s. only 1890’s before the worst crash ever – rivals the split today. See books and articles by Robert Reich.


  2. twitter August 14, 2011 / 9:26 am

    Thanks for sharing but there’s a better graph at:


    The graph here is missing a few orders of magnitude because the highest earners in the US pocket billions each year, not millions. The thousand fold difference between those people and the average of 300,000 people in the top 0.1% of the US population is significant feature which should not be concealed. When that feature is displayed, the rest of the curve vanishes and becomes an L unless you display it on a log graph that would befuddle most people.

    The distribution of wealth is even worse.


  3. Mark August 14, 2011 / 9:53 pm

    Great graph thanks for the link


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