Unexpectedly Intriguing!
September 16, 2014
Image Source: http://tax.illinois.gov/businesses/taxinformation/income/corporate.htm

Where do you stack up in the distribution of income within the United States?

We can help you answer this question using the data that the U.S. Census Bureau has collected on the total money income earned by individual Americans, as well as for the families and households into which Americans gather themselves!

If you're a visual person, we'll first present the information graphically in animated chart form and then we'll present a tool where you can get a more precise estimate of what your percentile ranking is within each of these groups. In the charts below, first find the income that applies for you on the horizontal axis, then move directly upward to the curve that defines the cumulative distribution of income. Once you've found your place on S-shaped curve in each chart, look directly to the vertical scale on the left hand side of the chart to determine your approximate U.S. income percentile ranking.

The animated chart below will take you through the following progression, showing the cumulative total money income distribution for U.S. individuals, households and families in 2015. Each of the charts will be displayed for five seconds and will cycle back to the beginning after running through each of the charts. The charts will also indicate the median and average income earned by each category.

Animation: 2015 Cumulative Distribution of Total Money Income in U.S. for Individuals, Households and FamiliesUpdate 13 September 2016: We've updated this animation to feature charts showing the U.S. Census Bureau's income income data for the 2015 calendar year (data for 2016 won't be available until September 2017). Please click here to see the original animation using 2013's income distribution data!

That's it for the pictures - let's find out more precisely where you really fit in! To find out where you, your family or your household ranks among each of these categories, just enter your personal income, your family's income, which includes the incomes of your spouse and other family members who live with you, and also the combined income of just the people who live within the walls of the same household that you do. We'll do some quick math and provide a more better estimate of the percentage of all American individuals, families and households that you outrank given the incomes you enter than you can get from simply reading the chart above!

And as a bonus, we'll also break down the numbers for your Individual income to tell you how you compare to your fellow male and female Americans.

It all starts below! (Unless you're accessing this article through a site that simply republishes our RSS news feed, in which case, you should click through to our site to access a working version of our tool....)

Update 13 September 2016: Now updated with the U.S. Census Bureau's just released income distribution data for individuals, families and household data for the 2015 calendar year!

Income Data
Input Data Values
Select Year of Interest
Your Personal Total Money Income
Your Family's Combined Total Money Income
Your Household's Combined Total Money Income

Your Estimated U.S. Income Percentile Ranking
Calculated Results Values
Among All U.S. Individuals with Incomes
 - Among All U.S. Men with Incomes
 - Among All U.S. Women with Incomes
Among All U.S. Families
Among All U.S. Households

For our readers who live outside of the United States, you can still get in on the action if you convert your income from your local currency into U.S. dollars first!

Update 20 April 2016: If you want a more precise estimate of your income percentile ranking within the U.S., be sure to check out Don't Quit Your Day Job's Income Percentile Calculator. PK uses a more refined version of the U.S. Census Bureau's income data to estimate the distribution of total money income within the United States, which means that compared to our tool, which will put you in the right seating section of the ballpark, his tool can put you in the right row of the seating section. [Be sure to read the comments at that site for a discussion of the tradeoffs we have chosen to make to produce our tool above!]

Notes

The default data we've presented in the tool above represents the average total money income of U.S. individuals, families and households for 2013. Oh, and as a bonus, you can also see where you would have fit in the U.S. income distributions we've modeled going back to 2010 by selecting your year of interest.

In the tool above, your percentile ranking indicates the percentage of Americans who either share your income or earn less than you do. As such, it tells you what percentage of the population you're above in the income-earning food chain.

For example, a percentile ranking of zero would indicate that you are at the very bottom end of the American income spectrum, while a percentile ranking of 100 indicates that you are effectively at the very top end. A percentile rank of 50.0 would indicate that you're within spitting range of being the middle of all Americans, as our tool should be able to place most people within 0.2% of their actual percentile ranking.

Finally, if you're looking for the income data for this year, please note that the U.S. Census Bureau will report the data it collects for this year sometime in September of next year. The delay isn't all bureaucratic - they send out the surveys for income in March of each year, just as or after most Americans fill out their income taxes for the previous year so their income figures are still fresh in their memories, and then it can take the Census Bureau's statisticians up to six months to sort it all out and make some kind of coherent sense of it all!

Income Inequality

If you're seeking to understand what really drives income inequality in the United States, including what has caused it to appear to increase since 1947, you've come to the right place! Here's a short list of our previous posts on the topic:

  • The Discovery of the Unseen (2012) - we go where so-called experts on income inequality fear to tread and reveal that U.S. household income inequality has increased over time mostly because more Americans live alone!
  • The Real Story of "Rising" U.S. Income Inequality - we find that social factors, rather than economic ones, account for virtually all of the claimed increase in income inequality over time.
  • The Major Trends in U.S. Income Inequality Since 1947 (2013, Part 1) - we revisit the U.S. Census Bureau's income inequality data for American individuals, families and households to see what it really tells us.
  • The Widows Peak (2013, Part 2) - we identify when the dramatic increase in the number of Americans living alone really occurred and identify which Americans found themselves in that situation.
  • The Men Who Weren't There (2013, Part 3) - our final anniversary post installment explores the lasting impact of the men who died in the service of their country in World War 2 and the hole in society that they left behind, which was felt decades later as the dramatic increase in income inequality for U.S. families and households.
  • Debunking Income Inequality Theory - we revisit the inflation and deflation of the Dot-Com stock market bubble to demonstrate how the topmost and bottommost portions of the spectrum of U.S. income earners realized directly proportional benefits to each other, even though the measure of income inequality made it seem like income inequality increased during that period.

Data Sources for 2013 Incomes

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Person Income Tables. PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Income in 2013. Total Work Experience, Both Sexes, All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Person Income Tables. PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Income in 2013. Total Work Experience. Male. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Person Income Tables. PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years Old and Over by Total Money Income in 2013. Total Work Experience. Female. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Person Income Tables. PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2013. All Races. Male. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Person Income Tables. PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2013. All Races. Female. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Family Income Tables. FINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Families by Total Money Income in 2013. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Family Income Tables. FINC-06. Percent Distribution of Families, by Selected Characteristics Within Income Quintile and Top 5 Percent in 2013. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Family Income Tables. FINC-07. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Families: 2013. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Household Income Tables. HINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Households by Total Money Income in 2013. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Household Income Tables. HINC-05. Percent Distribution of Households, by Selected Characteristics Within Income Quintile and Top 5 Percent in 2013. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2014 Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement. 2013 Household Income Tables. HINC-06. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Households: 2013. All Races. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2014.

Data Sources for 2014 Incomes

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2014. Male. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2014. Female. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years and Over, by Total Money Income in 2014, Work Experience in 2014, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table FINC-07. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Families: 2014. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table FINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Families by Total Money Income in: 2014. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table HINC-06. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Households: 2014. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table HINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Households by Total Money Income in: 2014. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 16 September 2015. Accessed 16 September 2015.

Data Sources for 2015 Incomes

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-01. Selected Characteristics of People 15 Years and Over, by Total Money Income in 2015, Work Experience in 2015, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2015. Male. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table PINC-11. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Males and Females: 2015. Female. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table FINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Families by Total Money Income in: 2015. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table FINC-07. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Families: 2015. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table HINC-01. Selected Characteristics of Households by Total Money Income in: 2015. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.

U.S. Census Bureau. Current Population Survey. Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.Table HINC-06. Income Distribution to $250,000 or More for Households: 2015. [Excel Spreadsheet]. 13 September 2016. Accessed 13 September 2016.


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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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