Visualizing Net Annual Income in America

In 2019, economic inequality in the U.S. reached its highest level in more than half a century. However, the World Economic Forum recently warned that income inequality could worsen as a result of the coronavirus crisis. Our latest visualization provides a snapshot of economic inequality in the U.S. prior to the outbreak by comparing the distribution of wage income in 2018. Here’s what we found:

net annual income

  • There were 168 million wage earners in the U.S. in 2018.
  • The amount of wages paid in 2018 was $8.4 trillion.
  • The “raw average” wage paid out to workers in 2018 was $50,000.44. 
  • In the U.S., 67.43% of workers earned less than $50,000.

The visualization draws upon 2018 wage data from the Social Security Administration. The circle graph represents 100% of the total wages earned in the U.S. Each slice of the circle represents the percentage of Americans whose net compensation fell within a certain interval, such as $0-$4,999 or $5,000-$9,999. The larger the slice of the circle, the higher the percentage of Americans within that net compensation range. In addition, each slice of the circle is color-coded. The shades of pink indicate lower wages, while the shades of blue and green indicate higher wages. At first glance, you can see that most of the circle is pink, corresponding with the high percentage of low-income Americans.

Distribution of Annual Income in America

Less than $30,000: 46.51%
$30,000 - $49,999: 20.93%
$50,000 - $99,999: 22.27%
$100,000 - $250,000: 8.89%
$250,000 - $1,000,000: 1.39%
More than $1,000,000: 0.09%

The coronavirus crisis is taking an even greater toll on Americans’ wages. Last week, more than 6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits, since many nonessential businesses were forced to temporarily close their doors to promote social distancing.

However, some help is on the way. The government recently passed a $2 trillion stimulus package to jumpstart the economy, support small businesses, and provide temporary relief for individuals. As the coronavirus outbreak continues to rattle the economy, the long-term effects on economic equality remain to be seen.

How do you think wage inequality will change in the wake of the coronavirus? Do you think the stimulus package will help low-income workers? Let us know in the comments below.

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Juan Carlos

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