Unexpectedly Intriguing!
June 12, 2007

How have the number of income earners by age group changed on a percentage basis at all inflation-adjusted income levels from 1995 to 2005? We'll show you in our last look at each of our age brackets!

Age 15-24

The following chart shows the percentage changes in annual income earned by members of Age 15-24 group from 1995 to 2005:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 15-24) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

The percentage growth of high income earners in this chart looks much more impressive than it actually is. Income-earners in this youngest age group are heavily weighted to the low end of the scale, with very few individuals at the highest income levels (this accounts for the outsized gains at this end of the chart - it doesn't take a huge change in the number of individuals to score a high percentage!)

Age 25-34

Let's next look at the percentage changes for the Age 25-34 group - our first post-school years and now full-time income-earning group:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 25-34) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

Here, we see the effects of a massive decrease in the number of low income earners. Meanwhile, like the Age 15-24 group, the positive percentage changes at the high end of the income scale are amplified by the relatively low numbers of individuals earning these incomes.

Age 35-44

The chart for the Age 34-44 group shows a somewhat different pattern:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 35-44) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

In this chart, we not only see decreases in the number of low-end income earners, but also the numbers of high-end income earners as well.

Note: This chart spans a unique transition for the U.S. In 1995, the Age 35-44 group was entirely made up by members of the baby boom generation. More significantly, the distribution of the numbers of individuals within this group were heavily weighted toward the youngest members (the growing surge of the baby boomers.)

As this group was displaced by 2005's Age 35-44 group, the distribution of the number of individuals within this group became heavily weighted toward the oldest members (the tail end of the baby boom generation.)

This chart also reflects the convergence of several major factors driving how income is distributed among income earners within the U.S., which we'll expand upon later....

Age 45-54

The following chart shows massive percentage increases at all levels - driven by the surging numbers of the baby boom generation:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 45-54) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

As we've noted before, the ages from 45 through 54 represent the peak income earning years for individuals in the United States, and seeing the raw numbers of the largest generation in the U.S. move fully into these years is something to behold.

Age 55-64

The Age 55-64 group saw a disproportionate number of high income earners join its ranks in the period from 1995 to 2005:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 55-64) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

The reason why goes straight back to demographics - this age group includes the leading edge of the baby boom generation!

Age 65-74

We'll wrap up with the percentage changes in income earners for the retirement ages of 64 through 74:

Percentage Change in Number of Income Earning Individuals (Age 45-54) vs Annual Income Between 1995 and 2005

In a lot of ways, the 65-74 age group is a lot like the Age 15-24 group - it's heavily weighted toward lower incomes. Like the Age 15-24 group, the high percentage increases at higher incomes is largely an artifact of the low numbers of individuals earning these incomes (this group is, after all, largely retired from the U.S. workforce!)

Previously on Political Calculations

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