March 6, 2020

BEA has developed prototype statistics that measure how the nation’s personal income is distributed across households, offering a new tool for assessing how Americans share in the nation’s economic growth.

U.S. personal income is one of the principal economic indicators produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. BEA combined its data with other publicly available data, including demographic surveys, aggregated tax information, and administrative records, to measure how personal income is distributed.

For example, the new statistics show that households in the top 10 percent of incomes (adjusted for household size) accounted for 37.6 percent of the nation’s personal income in 2016. Households in the lowest 10 percent received 2.1 percent of U.S. personal income.

In addition to deciles, the data also show households divided into five groups, or quintiles, as well as the income received by the top 1 percent of households. There are breakdowns by sources of income, including compensation, interest income, and government benefits.

Distribution of income statistics for 2007-2016, their methodology, and related research are available on bea.gov.

These statistics build on a history of BEA’s predecessor agency estimating distribution of income in the 1950s and as late as 1971. BEA is releasing them along with a prototype set of charts that use the bureau’s data to look at trends in economic well-being and long-term growth of the economy.

These products offer data users new tools to measure the economic health of the United States.

BEA is seeking feedback to help refine the methodology and presentation of the prototype distribution of personal income statistics, with plans to begin estimating income distribution on a regular schedule by the end of 2020. Submit comments by email to [email protected].