Unexpectedly Intriguing!
30 May 2007

Since we've been comparing income distributions for various age groups in both 1995 and 2005, we thought we'd take the opportunity to present some basic snapshot data before getting into the real data-lifting portion of our ongoing exercise.

Counting Income Earners by Age Group

Our first snapshot reveals the number of income-earning individuals by age group in the U.S. for both 1995 and 2005 who fall within the income range of $0 to $95,000 in constant 2005 U.S. dollars:

Number of Income Earners by Age Group, 1995 and 2005

Overall, the number of U.S. individuals earning annual incomes between $0 and $95,000 in constant 2004 U.S. dollars increased from 165,937,163 in 1995 to 176,929,886 in 2005, a 6.6% increase. The greatest increases within the different age groups occurred in the Age 55-64 group (37.6%) and the Age 45-54 group (33.6%). The age 25-34 group saw the greatest decrease (-10.5%), while all the other age groups saw modest changes of less than 3% (positive or negative.)

Note: We've tweaked the data provided in this chart from our previous presentation, as we've modified how the data was calculated to directly correspond with how we determined the total income earned by each age group within our annual income spectrum. Now, these figures are based upon adding the number of people we calculated would be between each consecutive $100 interval from $0 to $95,000, where before, we had simply run our calculation at these extreme limits.

Totaling Income by Age Group

How much income did all the individuals within our income spectrum of $0 to $95,000 2004 U.S. dollars for each age group take home in 1995 and 2005? The chart below reveals the answer:

Total Accumulative Income by Age Group, 1995 and 2005

All together, income-earning individuals raked in some 4.23 trillion 2004 U.S. dollars in 1995 and 4.89 trillion 2004 U.S. dollars in 2005, an increase of 15.7%. Once again, the greatest gain by age group was the Age 55-64 group, which gained some 58.1% over the decade from 1995 to 2005, rising from $492 billion to $777.9 billion. Second place was again taken by the Age 45-54 group, who saw their total income earned increase by 35.7% (from $897.3 billion to $1.218 trillion).

The next largest gain was taken in by the Age 15-24 group, who increased some 15.9% from $302.6 billion in 1995 to $350.8 billion in 2005, followed by the Age 65-74 group, who increased 8.6% from $327.1 billion to $355.3 billion in that time.

The only decrease in total income accumulated within the various age groups was realized by the Age 25-34 group, who declined 3.1% from 1995's $1.016 trillion to 2005's $985.3 billion.

Average Income per Capita Income-Earner

Correction: A sharp-eyed reader caught an error we made in describing what our data is actually showing. Average income per capita would apply to all people within a population (those who earn incomes as well as those who do not), while what we're actually doing in our ongoing analysis is looking only at the subset of the whole population who earn income and were counted as doing so in the Current Population Survey for both 1995 and 2005! We have also modified the title of our chart below to clarify exactly whose average income is being considered. Such are the perils of doing "live" analysis on the web!....

Since we now have the totals for number of income earners within each age group as well as the total amount of income that they accumululated for each year, we can now find the average income earned by these individuals within each age group! The following chart presents the average income per capita income-earner results:

Average Annual Income per Income-Earner, 1995 and 2005

This is maybe the most remarkable result that we've seen to date. First, we confirm that the ages from 45 to 54 years old represent the peak earning years for all age groups, as this age range tops the average annual income for both 1995 and 2005.

Second, we find that from 1995 to 2005, after having adjusted for inflation, the Age 45-54 group's average income only increased by 1.6%, from $33,556 to $34,088 in constant 2004 U.S. dollars.

By comparison, every other age group saw the average income per capita income-earner increase more. The top growth rate is claimed by the Age 55-64 group, which rose from $26,637 to $30,614, an increase of 14.9%. Second place was the low income earning Age 15-24 group, who increased 13.7% from $11,320 to $12,875 in the ten years from 1995 to 2005.

Likewise, the Age 65-74 group grew it's average annual income by 10.8% (from $17,855 to $19,787), and the Age 25-34 group, which had seen significant declines in number of income earners and total income earned, rose some 8.5% in the per capita income-earner measurement.

For all Age Groups (or rather, Age 15-74), the average annual income per capita income-earner rose from $25,487 in 1995 to $27,648 in 2005, an increase of 8.5%!

How funny that the "richest" age group in the U.S. grew richer so much more slowly than all the other age groups during these 10 years!

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