Household Income Distribution in the U.S. Visualized as 100 Homes

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via visualcapitalist:

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100 homes household income

Inequality in America has become a major talking point in recent years. For many people though, the concept of inequality – the idea that wealth is spread very thinly at the lower end of the socioeconomic ladder – is still an abstract concept.

There are over 125 million households in the United States, each with their own unique structure and financial situation, so understanding such a complex issue requires reducing it to proportions we can understand.


In the visualization above, American households are distilled down into 100 homes, then color-coded into $25,000 income increments.

One house is allocated for those making $300,000 and more per year. On the other end of the scale, we can see that 24 of the households earn $25,000 per year or less, and nearly half of the households have an annual income lower than $50,000.

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Here is a more granular breakdown of numbers, this time from a slightly different data source (U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 Household Income Survey):

Income Bracket Households (Millions) Share of Total
Less than $15,000 14.1 11.2%
$15,000 – $24,999 12.1 9.6%
$25,000 – $34,999 11.9 9.4%
$35,000 – $49,999 16.3 12.9%
$50,000 – $74,999 21.5 17.0%
$75,000 – $99,999 15.5 12.3%
$100,000 – $149,999 17.8 14.1%
$150,000 – $199,999 8.3 6.6%
$200,000 and up 8.8 7.0%

Households between $35,000 and $100,000 are generally considered middle class. That said, the geographical location of where a household is located also makes a big difference.


Not surprisingly, cost of living strongly influences your household’s place on the income spectrum.

In El Paso, Texas, a $50,000 income places a household of four people in the middle class. However, in a more expensive metro area, like San Diego, that same income lands your household in a lower income tier. Here’s a closer look at the cost of typical expenses in the two metros:

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Expense El Paso, TX San Diego, CA Cost difference
Home price $239,285.67 $755,273.67 ⬆︎ 216%
Apartment rent $945.92 $1,961.55 ⬆︎ 107%
Energy cost $133.53 $213.96 ⬆︎ 60%
Dentist visit $89.08 $104.25 ⬆︎ 17%
Coffee $4.47 $5.39 ⬆︎ 20%
Hamburger $3.56 $4.35 ⬆︎ 22%
Gasoline $2.31 $3.31 ⬆︎ 44%



The median household income in the U.S. continues setting new monthly records, and we’ve just seen this decade’s largest year-over-year increase in individual wages.

One side effect of this economic growth is that households in the top wage bracket – the well-appointed yellow square in our visualization – have a tendency to reap outsized rewards. So, for now, as America’s economy trends upward, so does its Gini Coefficient.



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