Distribution of Personal Income

These prototype statistics take one of BEA's primary economic indicators—U.S. personal income—and measure how it is distributed across households. This provides a way to assess how households share in the nation's economic growth. The statistics build on at least a decade of BEA research by bringing in new sources of data, including demographic surveys, aggregated tax records, and administrative records.

The first of these prototype statistics were published in March 2020. Statistics on the distribution of disposable personal income were added later that year. BEA has continued publishing new data and incorporating  methodological improvements since then. In December 2022, supplemental internationally comparable data were also published, along with accompanying documentation.

We will continue to seek feedback on the prototypes before beginning to publish distribution of personal income statistics regularly.

About the December 2022 Update

2022 Update

The December 2022 distribution of personal income release adds full data for 2020 and provisional data for 2021. Given the importance of providing timely data, extrapolations were made for several income sources with unavailable data to provide distributional estimates for 2021. Accordingly, there is no component data (Table 1) available for 2021. A full set of distributional metrics has been provided for personal income and disposable income (see summary file below for those). Because the top 1% and top 5% income shares are substantially influenced by not-yet-available Statistics of Income source data for 2021, interval ranges are provided for these estimates.

New Internationally Comparable Statistics

A new series of internationally comparable inequality research statistics has been provided for the same years (2000-2020 + provisional 2021) that follow the guidance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Expert Group on Disparities in a National Accounts framework (EG DNA). Following the same structure as the BEA distribution of personal income tables, this release includes one OECD inequality metrics summary file and 21 individual year-files with two tables each. These tables (and accompanying methodology document) are provided in Supplemental Information below.

Distribution of Personal Consumption Expenditures

To provide a fuller picture of the well-being of households, BEA and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have collaborated to develop a distribution of personal consumption expenditures (PCE) that is based on the Consumer Expenditure Survey. This is an ongoing research project, with the latest estimates and methodology available on the Distribution of Personal Consumption Expenditures BLS page.

What is Distribution of Personal Income?

Measures how households are sharing in the U.S. economy's growth. Shows how total personal income in the United States is distributed across households.

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