Data + Design Project

Compared to the US: What Percentage Income Are You?

Monday 01.16.2012 , Posted by
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With all the talk about the 1% in recent months, it’s been pretty common to wonder where we all measure up compared to that famous percentage of wealth. To help answer the question, the New York Times has put out two graphics analyzing what the wealth distribution of the nation really looks like. The first is a detailed interactive graphic allowing you to directly compare your household income to the national average, state averages and even your local county. By inputting your household income, the graphic generates your percentage compared to the area you select. The second graphic, a colorful grid, examines which professions hold the highest percentage and number of 1 percent-ers in that field in the nation.

What’s interesting about these graphics? For one, it shows that in order to be in the 1% nationwide, you only need to be making $383,001 annually. Now, that’s still a very healthy chunk of change, but not quite the Wall Street controlling amount one would expect. What also becomes clear, is that the range of wealth held in the 1% is huge, containing everyone from these ‘lower’ earners all the way up to the multi-billionaire, lunch in St. Barts, private jet-set types. Perhaps, at least for data’s sake, the graphic could have given a finer scale at the top, showing the top tenth of a percent or even smaller.

The second graphic is interesting in what professions make it into the 1% bracket. Many of the careers listed are self-employed work or business owners, which goes to show that having a boss is not the best way to make good money. Second, it shows many professions make the cut that also wouldn’t be considered the high powered wall-street type: jobs like being a lawyer or physician.

What becomes pretty clear with these graphics, is that the top 1% is a very diverse group of individuals, and while many of them can hold quite a bit of sway politically, the actual 1% much mentioned by the Occupy Movement and in the news, is more honestly the demographic of the 0.01% or even higher. This graphic does demonstrate very well how we each fit into our communities financially. Check out the graphics, and the Times’ interesting write up here.

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Benjamin Starr

Written by Benjamin Starr



Known in some circles as the most amazing man in the universe, he once saved an entire family of muskrats from a sinking, fire engulfed steamboat while recovering from two broken arms relating to a botched no-chute wingsuit landing in North Korea. When not impressing people with his humbling humility, he can be found freelance writing, finding shiny objects on the internet, enjoying the company of much-appreciated friends and living out his nomadic nature. He is Managing Editor of Visual News. Follow his movements on Twitter:

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