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
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.
- Includes distribution of personal income by decile, quintile, top 1%, and top 5%, 2000—2021.
- Download a summary file of inequality metrics for 2000-2021 XLSX
- Technical Document: An Updated Methodology for Distributing Personal Income December 15, 2022
This document details BEA's methodology for the prototype estimates.
- Summary of Methodological Updates and New Features PDF December 15, 2022
- Measuring Inequality in the National Accounts December 15, 2020
This paper provides context around the prototype estimates released in December 2020, including discussions of measurement issues and the concept of income.
- Infographic: Measuring the Distribution of Personal Income PDF and Image PNG
- This dataset follows the guidance of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Expert Group on Disparities in a National Accounts framework.
- Download a summary file of OECD inequality metrics for 2000-2021 XLSX
- OECD Technical Document: An Internationally Comparable Methodology PDF December 15, 2022
- New Statistics Measure How Personal Income Is Distributed
- How households share in an economy's growthBy Dennis J. Fixler | Economic Statistics Centre of Excellence, August 2019
- Do transfers lower inequality between households? Demographic evidence from Distributional National Accounts By Marina Gindelsky | Economic Inquiry. Volume 60, Issue 3. July 2022. Pages 1233-1257
- Developing Statistics on the Distribution of State Personal Income: Methodology and Preliminary Results By Dirk van Duym and Christian Awuku-Budu | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, May 2022
- The Feasibility of a Quarterly Distribution of Personal Income By Dennis Fixler, Marina Gindelsky, and Robert Kornfeld | U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, December 2021
- Distributing Personal Income: Trends Over Time By Dennis Fixler, Marina Gindelsky, and David Johnson | National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2020
- Improving the Measure of the Distribution of Personal IncomeBy Dennis J. Fixler, Marina Gindelsky, and David S. Johnson | BEA Paper, February 2019. Published in AEA Papers and Proceedings, May 2019.
- Towards a Distribution of Household Income: Linking Survey Data to Administrative Data PDFby Dennis J. Fixler, Marina Gindelsky, and David S. Johnson | 35th IARIW General Conference, August 2018
- A Consistent Data Series to Evaluate Growth and Inequality in the National Accountsby Dennis J. Fixler, David S. Johnson, Andrew Craig, and Kevin Furlong | Review of Income and Wealth, November 2017
- Toward National and Regional Distributions of Personal Income PDFby Dennis J. Fixler, David S. Johnson, Andrew Craig, and Kevin J. Furlong | SCB, March 2017
- Accounting for the Distribution of Income in the U.S. National Accountsby Dennis J. Fixler and David S. Johnson | Measuring Economic Sustainability and Progress, 2014
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.
News MediaConnie O'Connell