Which Percent are You? — The Actual Income Distribution in the United States

Jeremy Keeshin
May 22, 2016 · 7 min read

The Tool and Visualization

I built a tool which you can see here (http://thekeesh.com/whichpercent/) which is based on Social Security Administration wage data, as well as Census income data. You can type in an individual annual income and it shows you what “percent” you are in the US. You can also dive into the source data yourself.

Some Benchmarks

Start with $28,851, the median income or the 50%. Thats $13/hour and it takes a standard work year of 260 days to earn that income.

The Inequality Issue

Now type in $1,000,000. That’s the 0.0825%. That’s the top 130,000. That’s $480/hour. It’s 34.66084 times the median and would take just 60 hours (7.5013 work days) to make the median annual income.

If this graph is taking up 6 inches on your display then the full graph should be 1.70 miles and the small bar showing everyone in the United States would be one pixel. That is actually the skew.

If this graph is taking up 6 inches on your display then the full graph should be 1.70 miles and the small bar showing everyone in the United States would be one pixel. That is actually the skew. You’d draw a dot, then walk for 35 minutes and that would be how far away the graph would be at scale.


What Bernie is saying about income inequality is both accurate and not an exaggeration.

What Bernie is saying about income inequality is both accurate and not an exaggeration. You’re likely somewhere on the left sliver with 90% of people under $85k. When one argues that we can’t afford to lift up the poorest or it would ruin the economy, the math doesn’t support it. You could tax the income of ten people, they could still be billionaires, and we’d lift up a million people. The effects of power law distributions with these orders of magnitude are very difficult to comprehend.

Jeremy Keeshin

Blog Posts by Jeremy Keeshin (also at thekeesh.com)

Jeremy Keeshin

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CEO and co-founder at @CodeHS // previously founded the Flipside

Jeremy Keeshin

Blog Posts by Jeremy Keeshin (also at thekeesh.com)