Unexpectedly Intriguing!
May 15, 2007

Having recently looked at the distribution of the number of U.S. income earners by age and income level for 2005, we thought it might be fun to create a similar chart looking at the same data, but from 10 years earlier. The following chart is generated from data provided by the U.S. Census' Current Population Survey from March 1995 and shows the distribution in the number of U.S. income earners by age and income level for 1994:

1995 Distribution of Number of US Income Earners by Income Level and Age Bracket

The income ranges in the chart above reflect 1994 U.S. dollars. Now, for the sake of comparison, here's our previous chart, which shows the distribution in the number of U.S. income earners by age and income level for 2004:

2005 Distribution of Number of US Income Earners by Income Level and Age Bracket

Since the income ranges in this chart reflect 2004 U.S. dollars, it's not possible to do more than directly compare the number of U.S. income earners in each age bracket for 1994 and 2004. Never-the-less, we find that there has been a substantial increase in the number of income earners in the higher age brackets. Our table below summarizes our findings:

Comparison in Number of U.S. Income Earners by Age Bracket for 1994 and 2004
Age Bracket 1994 2004 Percentage Change
Age 15-24 27,026,000 27,697,000 + 2.42%
Age 25-34 39,150,000 34,710,000 - 12.79%
Age 35-44 40,517,000 37,326,000 - 8.55%
Age 45-54 29,380,000 36,061,000 + 18.53%
Age 55-64 19,652,000 25,538,000 + 23.05%
Age 65-74 17,886,000 17,176,000 - 4.13%
Total Age 15-74 173,611,000 178,508,000 + 2.74%

Pretty remarkable! Although the total number of U.S. income earners between the ages of 15 and 74 only increased by 2.74% from 1994 to 2004, a substantial amount of shifting around between age brackets has occurred in that time.

Most notably, the growth in the number of income earners in the Age 55-64 bracket in 2004 exceeded all other brackets on a percentage basis, at an increase of 23.05% over 1994 levels, as 5,886,000 income earners were added to this group.

Second place in percentage growth between 1994 and 2004 belongs to the Age 45-54 bracket, as this group increased by 6,681,000 from 1994 to 2004, a 18.53% increase.

Meanwhile, the only other increase was the relatively flat growth in the number of income earners in the Age 15-24 bracket. All other age groups saw substantial decreases in the number of income earners in each bracket.

We'll be taking a closer look at this data in the days ahead....

Update: We should note that even the direct number comparison in the number of income earners from $1 to $95,000 between 1994 and 2004 is somewhat off, as the income ranges have not been adjusted for the effect of inflation over this time. As such, our post above only reflects raw number comparisons between these two years.

If we were to present this information in constant 2004 US dollars, and only look at the adjusted range between $1 and $95,000 for each year, there would be fewer income earners counted in 1994, as the effects of inflation make 1994 US dollars worth more in comparison. Consequently we would only be counting individuals in 1994 up to an income in that year of $74,575 ($95,000 2004 USD). We'll make these adjustments as part of our upcoming analysis.

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