The Top 0.01% and Top 1%'s Income Share: 2008


This one of the graphics that I presented recently at The Big Picture conference here in New York City. It is from a project I am currently working on called An Illustrated Guide to Income in the United States: a collection of infographics, maps and charts looking at the different incomes and occupations in the United States.

Recently the conversation in the news has been about the top 1%, however, in this graphic I show the breakdown of personal income by different percentiles, including the top 0.01% (i.e. income above $9 million). I have used 10,000 "people" to represent the tax returns filed in 2008, each "person" one equals 15,246 tax units. (A tax unit is single adult or married couple living together, including their dependents.)

So the top 1% are represented by the 100 "people" in the four (orange, yellow, magenta & red) rectangles the upper left corner.

Approximately $8.2 trillion in personal income (including capital gains) was reported to the IRS in 2008. Divide that by 152 million tax units you get an average income of $54,315. I have the size of the "people" represent the average income for each percentile group. For example the Average Income for the Top 0.01% = $27 million.

Data is from Saez and Piketty research which is now available at the The World Top Incomes Database 


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