Income in the United States

The percentage of households and individuals in each income bracket.[1][2]

Income in the United States is measured by the United States Department of Commerce either by household or individual. The differences between household and personal income is considerable since 42% of households, the majority of those in the top two quintiles with incomes exceeding $57,658, now have two income earners.[3]

This difference becomes very apparent when comparing the percentage of households with six figure incomes to that of individuals. In 2006, 17.3% of households had incomes exceeding $100,000,[1] compared to slightly less than 6% of individuals.[2] Overall the median household income was $46,326 in 2006 while the median personal income (including only those above the age of 25) was $32,140.[4]

Income inequality in the United States has increased considerably. Between 1979 and 2004, the mean after-tax income of the top percentile increased 167%, versus 69% for the top quintile overall, 29% for the fourth quintile, 21% for the middle quintile, 17% for the second quintile and 6% for the bottom quintile.[5] While wages for women have increased greatly, median earnings of male wage earners have remained stagnant since the late 1970s.[6][7] Household income, however, has risen due the increasing number of household with more than one income earners and women's increased presence in the labor force.[8] Half of the U.S. population lives in poverty or is low-income, according to U.S. Census data.[9] On the other hand, some members of the U. S. population have earned a considerable income: the top earner in 2011, hedge fund manager John Paulson, earned $4.9 billion, according to Business Insider.[10]

Income at a glance

Median income levels
Households Persons, age 25 or older with earnings Household income by race or ethnicity
All households Dual earner
Per household
Males Females Both sexes Asian Non-Hispanic White Hispanic
(of any race)
Median personal income by educational attainment
MeasureSome High SchoolHigh school graduateSome collegeAssociate's degreeBachelor's degree or higherBachelor's degreeMaster's degreeProfessional degreeDoctorate degree
Persons, age 25+ w/ earnings$20,321$26,505$31,054$35,009$49,303$43,143$52,390$82,473$70,853
Male, age 25+ w/ earnings$24,192$32,085$39,150$42,382$60,493$52,265$67,123$100,000$78,324
Female, age 25+ w/ earnings$15,073$21,117$25,185$29,510$40,483$36,532$45,730$66,055$54,666
Persons, age 25+, employed full-time$25,039$31,539$37,135$40,588$56,078$50,944$61,273$100,000$79,401
Household income distribution
Bottom 10%Bottom 20%Bottom 25%Middle 33%Middle 20%Top 25%Top 20%Top 5%Top 1.5%Top 1%
$0 to $10,500$0 to $18,500$0 to $22,500$30,000 to $62,500$35,000 to $55,000$77,500 and up$92,000 and up$167,000 and up$250,000 and up$350,000 and up
Source: US Census Bureau, 2006; income statistics for the year 2005

See also


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