Personal income in the United States

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Per capita United States income, 2001-2011
Median personal income for the population age 25 or older in 2005.[1]

Personal income is an individual’s total earnings from wages, investment interest, and other sources. In the United States the most widely cited personal income statistics are the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s personal income and the Census Bureau’s per capita money income. The two statistics spring from different traditions of measurement—personal income from national economic accounts and money income from household surveys. BEA's statistics relate personal income to measures of production, including GDP, and is considered an indicator of consumer spending. Census's statistics provide detail on income distribution and demographics and are used to produce the nation's official poverty statistics. Inflation-adjusted ("real") per-capita disposable personal income rose steadily in the U.S. from 1945 to 2008, but has since remained generally level.[2][3]

Income patterns are evident on the basis of age, sex, race and educational characteristics. In 2005 roughly half of all those with graduate degrees were among the nation's top 15% of income earners. Among different demographics (sex, marital status, race, gender) for those over the age of 18, median personal income ranged from $3,317 for an unemployed, married Asian American female[4] to $55,935 for a full-time, year-round employed Asian American male.[5] According to the US Census men tended to have higher income than women while Asians and Whites earned more than African Americans and Hispanics. The overall median personal income for all individuals over the age of 18 was $24,062[6][dead link] ($32,140 for those age 25 or above) in the year 2005.[7] The overall median income for all 155 million persons over the age of 15 who worked with earnings in 2005 was $28,567.[8]

As a reference point, the minimum wage rate in 2009 was $7.25 per hour or $15,080 for the 2080 hours in a typical work year. The minimum wage is a little more than the poverty level for a single person unit and about 50% of the poverty level for a family of four (see Poverty in the United States). Annual wages of $30,160; $45,240; $75,400; $150,800 and $1.5M correspond to 2, 3, 5, 10 and 100 times minimum wage respectively.[9]

Income statistics[edit]

Personal income and disposable personal income[edit]

BEA's personal income measures the income received by persons from participation in production, from government and business transfers, and from holding interest-bearing securities and corporate stocks. Personal income also includes income received by nonprofit institutions serving households, by private non-insured welfare funds, and by private trust funds. BEA also publishes disposable personal income, which measures the income available to households after paying federal and state and local government income taxes.

Income from production is generated both by the labor of individuals (for example, in the form of wages and salaries and of proprietors’ income) and by the capital that they own (in the form of rental income of persons). Income that is not earned from production in the current period—such as capital gains, which relate to changes in the price of assets over time—is excluded.

BEA’s monthly personal income estimates are one of several key macroeconomic indicators that the National Bureau of Economic Research considers when dating the business cycle.

Personal income and disposable personal income are provided both as aggregate and as per capita statistics. BEA produces monthly estimates of personal income for the nation, quarterly estimates of state personal income, and annual estimates of local-area personal income. More information is found on BEA's website.

Census Money Income[edit]

The Census Bureau collects income data on several major surveys, including the Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC) of the Current Population Survey (CPS), the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP), and the American Community Survey (ACS). The CPS is the source of the official national estimates of poverty and the most widely cited source of annual household income estimates for the United States.[10]

The CPS measure of money income is defined as the total pre-tax cash income received by people on a regular basis, excluding certain lump-sum payments and excluding capital gains.

The Census Bureau also produces alternative estimates of income and poverty based on broadened definitions of income that include many of these income components that are not included in money income.

The Census Bureau releases estimates of household money income as medians, percent distributions by income categories, and on a per capita basis. Estimates are available by demographic characteristics of householders and by the composition of households. More details on income concepts and sources are found on the Census Bureau’s website.

By educational attainment[edit]

Historical median personal income by education attainment in the US.png
Median personal income by educational attainment[11]
Measure Some High School High school graduate Some college Associate's degree Bachelor's degree or higher Bachelor's degree Master's degree Doctorate degree Professional degree
Persons, age 50+ w/ earnings $20,321 $26,505 $31,056 $35,009 $49,303 $43,143 $52,390 $69,432 $82,473
Male, age 25+ w/ earnings $24,192 $32,085 $39,150 $42,382 $60,493 $52,265 $67,123 $78,324 $100,000
Female, age 25+ w/ earnings $15,073 $21,117 $25,185 $29,510 $40,483 $36,532 $45,730 $54,666 $66,055
Persons, age 25+, employed full-time $25,039 $31,539 $37,135 $40,588 $56,078 $50,944 $61,273 $79,401 $100,000

Income distribution[edit]

Of those individuals with income who were older than 15 years of age, slightly under 45% had incomes below $25,000 while the top 10.43% had incomes exceeding $82,500 a year in 2010. The distribution of income among individuals differs substantially from household incomes as 39% of all households had two or more income earners. As a result 20.4% of households have six figure incomes, even though only 6.61% of Americans had incomes exceeding $100,000 in 2010. The following chart shows the income distribution among all 243,955,000 individuals aged 15 or higher who received income in 2010 as recorded by the United States Census Bureau.[12]

Income distribution among all those above age 25 and those between 25 and 64 with earnings.[12][13] NOTE: 25+ statistics will not add up exactly to 100% due to the unemployment rate
Income range Number of individuals
(in thousands)
Percent in group Percent Below Cumulative percentages
Under $2,500 12,686 6.00 0 less than $25k
48.01%
less than $50k
75.24%
less than $100k
93.39%
$2,500 to $4,999 7,202 3.41 6.00
$5,000 to $7,499 9,645 4.56 9.40
$7,500 to $9,999 12,157 5.75 13.96
$10,000 to $12,499 13,115 6.20 19.71
$12,500 to $14,999 9,491 4.49 25.91
$15,000 to $17,499 11,452 5.41 30.40
$17,500 to $19,999 8,433 3.99 35.82
$20,000 to $22,499 10,894 5.15 39.80
$22,500 to $24,999 6,472 3.06 44.95
$25,000 to $50,000
$25,000 to $27,499 8,767 4.15 48.01 $25k-$50k
27.23%
$27,500 to $29,999 5,594 2.65 52.16
$30,000 to $32,499 9,380 4.40 54.80
$32,500 to $34,999 4,119 1.95 59.21
$35,000 to $37,499 7,303 3.45 61.15
$37,500 to $39,999 3,980 1.88 64.61
$40,000 to $42,499 7,590 3.45 66.49
$42,500 to $44,999 2,903 1.37 70.08
$45,000 to $47,499 5,169 2.44 71.45
$47,500 to $49,999 2,856 1.35 73.89
$50,000 to $75,000
$50,000 to $52,499 6,320 2.99 75.24 $50k-$75k
12.86%
$50k-$100k
18.15%
$52,500 to $54,999 2,186 1.03 78.23
$55,000 to $57,499 3,455 1.63 79.27
$57,500 to $59,999 1,876 0.89 80.90
$60,000 to $62,499 4,220 2.00 81.79
$62,500 to $64,999 1,472 0.70 83.78
$65,000 to $67,499 2,490 1.18 84.48
$67,500 to $69,999 1,309 0.62 85.66
$70,000 to $72,499 2,791 1.32 86.27
$72,500 to $74,999 1,072 0.51 87.59
$75,000 to $100,000
$75,000 to $77,499 2,062 0.97 88.10 $75k-$100k
5.29%
$77,500 to $79,999 1,037 0.49 89.08
$80,000 to $82,499 2,064 0.98 89.57
$82,500 to $84,999 886 0.42 90.54
$85,000 to $87,499 1,275 0.60 90.96
$87,500 to $89,999 604 0.29 91.56
$90,000 to $92,499 1,466 0.69 91.85
$92,500 to $94,999 514 0.24 92.54
$95,000 to $97,499 774 0.37 92.79
$97,500 to $99,999 511 0.24 93.15
$100,000 or more
$100,000 or more 13,970 6.61 93.39

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, 2010[12]

Over time, by race and sex[edit]

This chart is median income of 15 year olds or older, who have non-zero income.[14] Amounts are shown in nominal dollars and in real dollars in parentheses, 2004 dollars.

1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2004
Overall Male $2,570 ($17,076) $4,080 ($22,051) $6,670 ($28,100) $12,530 ($27,206) $20,293 ($28,439) $28,343 ($31,089) $30,513
Female $953 ($6,333) $1,261 ($6,815) $2,237 ($9,424) $4,920 ($10,683) $10,070 ($14,112) $16,063 ($17,619) $17,629
White/European American Male $2,709 ($18,001) $4,296 ($23,219) $7,011 ($30,536) $13,328 ($28,939) $21,170 ($29,668) $29,797 ($32,684) $31,335
Female $1,060 ($7,044) $1,352 ($7,307) $2,266 ($9,546) $4,947 ($10,741) $10,317 ($14,459) $16,079 ($17,637) $17,648
Black/African American Male $1,471 ($9,775) $2,260 ($12,215) $4,157 ($17,513) $8,009 ($17,390) $12,868 ($18,034) $21,343 ($23,411) $22,740
Female $474 ($3,150) $837 ($4,524) $2,063 ($8,691) $4,580 ($9,944) $8,328 ($11,671) $15,581 ($17,420) $18,379
Asian Male NA NA NA NA $19,394 ($27,179) $30,833 ($33,820) $32,419
Female NA NA NA NA $11,086 ($15,536) $17,356 ($19,038) $20,618

By race and origin[edit]

Personal income varied significantly with an individual's racial characteristics with racial discrepancies having remained largely stagnant since 1996. Overall, Asian Americans enjoyed higher median personal incomes than any other racial demographic. Asian Americans had a median income roughly ten percent higher than that of Whites [15] The only exception was among the holders of graduate degrees who consititute 8.9% of the population. Among those with a Master's, Professional or Doctorate degree those who identified as White had the highest median individual income.. This racial income gap was relatively small.[15][16]

Those identifying as Hispanic or Latino (who may have been of any "race") had the lowest overall median personal income, earning 28.51% less than Whites[16][17] and 35% less than Asian Americans.[15] The second largest racial or ethnic gap was between Whites and African Americans with the former earning roughly 22% more than the latter. Thus one can observe a significant discrepancy with the median income of Asians and Whites and that of African Americans and Hispanics.[18]

Overall the race gap between African Americans and Whites has remained roughly equal between both races over the past decade.[16][19] Both races saw a gain in median income between 1996 and 2006, with the income growth among African Americans slightly outpacing that of Whites. In 1996 the median income for Whites was $5,957 (31%) higher than for Blacks. In 2006 the gap in median incomes was nearly identical with the median income for Whites being $5,929 (22%) higher than that for African Americans. While the gap remains numerically unchanged, the percentage difference between the two races has decreased as a result of mutual increases in median personal income.[16][19] Measuring income by per capita is another way to look at personal earnings by race. Unlike median statistics, per capita statistics are affected by extremely high and low incomes. According to the U.S Census Bureau "The per capita income for the overall population in 2008 was $26,964; for non-Hispanic Whites, it was $31,313; for Blacks, it was $18,406; for Asians, it was $30,292; and for Hispanics(median of all races within group), it was $15,674".[20]

Race Overall Median High School Some College College Graduate Bachelor's Degree Master's Degree Doctorate Degree
Total population All, age 25+ 32,140 26,505 31,054 49,303 43,143 52,390 70,853
Full-time workers, age 25-64 39,509 31,610 37,150 56,027 50,959 61,324 79,292
White alone All, age 25+ 33,030 27,311 31,564 49,972 43,833 52,318 85,658
Full-time workers, age 25-64 40,422 32,427 38,481 56,903 51,543 61,441 77,906
Asian alone All, age 25+ 36,152 25,285 29,982 51,481 42,466 61,452 69,653
Full-time workers, age 25-64 42,109 27,041 33,120 60,532 51,040 71,316 91,430
African American All, age 25+ 27,101 22,379 27,648 44,534 41,572 48,266 61,894
Full-time workers, age 25-64 32,021 26,230 32,392 47,758 45,505 52,858 N/A
Hispanic or Latino (of any race) All, age 25+ 23,613 22,941 28,698 41,596 37,819 50,901 67,274
Full-time workers, age 25-64 27,266 26,461 33,120 46,594 41,831 53,880 N/A

SOURCE: US Census Bureau, 2006[21]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "US Census Bureau, 25+, 2005". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  2. ^ "Real Disposable Personal Income: Per capita" Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, 2013
  3. ^ "The Rich Are Enjoying The Recovery While Wages Fall For Everyone Else" ThinkProgress, January 25, 2013
  4. ^ "US Census Bureau, females, 18 or older, unemployed, personal income, 2005". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  5. ^ "US Census Bureau, male, 18 or older, employed full-time year round, 2005". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  6. ^ "US Census Bureau, 18+ age, 2005". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  7. ^ "US Census Bureau, Personal income for all sexes, races in 2005". Retrieved 2006-11-19. 
  8. ^ "US Census Bureau, median income for total labor force". Retrieved 2006-12-08. 
  9. ^ "US DOL, Minimum Wage". Retrieved 2010-06-15. 
  10. ^ "US Census Bureau, Poverty". Retrieved 2011-06-15. 
  11. ^ Source: US Census Bureau, 2006; income statistics for the year 2005
  12. ^ a b c "US Census Bureau, distribution of personal income, 2010". Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  13. ^ "US Census Bureau, income distribution, ages 25-64, 2006". Retrieved 2012-03-13. 
  14. ^ Taken from World Almanac (in turn sourced to US Census Bureau)
  15. ^ a b c "US Census Bureau, Personal income for Asian Americans, age 25+, 2006". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  16. ^ a b c d "US Census Bureau, Personal income for Whites, age 25+, 2006". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  17. ^ "US Census Bureau, Personal income for Hispanic Americans, age 25+, 2006". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  18. ^ "US Census Bureau, Personal income for African Americans, age 25+, 2006". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  19. ^ a b "US Census Bureau, Personal income by race, age 25+, 1996". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 
  20. ^ "Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2008". U.S. Census Bureau. 2009. .
  21. ^ a b "US Census Bureau, Personal income, age 25+, 2006 statistics forum". Retrieved 2006-12-17. 

External links[edit]