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« The Importance of a First Impression, Part 1 | Main | The Importance of a First Impression, Part 2 »

January 18, 2012


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Is this household income or individual?

Ditto on the first comment.

I assume it is individual but I try not to assume

As a new reader I do not konw where you end up on the list. I am in the third Quintile.

Thanks for the post.

Can you clarify what these numbers really mean according to the article? Did they take total income and divide by number of workers which is confusing and does not reflect each individual? Otherwise, I think the stats are wrong. I don't believe 55% of the population makes $97,298 or better. The sample is either biased or they are counting dual-earning families and not individuals. Was this a poll of Money Magazine readers? Then it would be self-selected by those interested enough to subscribe to Money Magazine and to answer the poll and would not represent a cross section of the general population.


The top 20% of income earners make at least $97k. Collectively, the top 20% earn 55% of all the money earned by American workers.

That's what it means.

That WSJ article says its household income.

These figures refer to total gross annual income for households, not individuals. They are threshold numbers, not averages. For example, "Fourth Quintile: Income $57,213 to $97,298; 20% of all U.S. income" means that for a family to be in the Fourth Quintile, its income has be at least $57,213 and can be up to $97,298. A family with an income of $97,298 or more would be in the Fifth Quintile (that's the top 20%, not the top 45% as MaryW wrote). The numbers are from government stats for 2010, not some Money poll of subscribers. (The 2011 numbers won't be available for several months.)

This is kind of confusing at least at first glance. I'll refrain from answering just yet until I get a clearer picture. Maybe another cup of coffee will help :)

4th quintile.

I might break into the top quintile in my current field, but most likely will never be in the top 10%.

Is it AGI (adjusted gross income) or total household income, I couldn't figure that out even by reading the link...

Assuming it's total household income before deductions we are in the top 3% (so I can join the OWS movements without being a hypocrite...!)

FMF, if you include the proceeds from the blog you would be in the top 2%... if you took that out, you'd be in the top 4%...


Yeah, 4th for me as well. Interesting study.

Our household income is in the 80% (top 20%). Pretty shocking since I've just started my career (about 4 years into it now).

Last year: second quintile

This year: probably bottom earner due to job loss

Based on 2009 tax year filing data, the Internal Revenue Service says an adjusted gross income, or AGI, of $343,927 or more will put you in the top 1 percent of taxpayers. (

I think the "goal" is to have a high net worth and low taxable income. Being a "liquid" multi-millionaire, my income is only in the third Quintile, THAT's effficient! :)

If you click on the "Definitions" link on the WSJ tool, they provide the following detail:

"Income is defined as household, adjusted gross-income including other sources of income such as social security benefits and interest on municipal bonds.

Source: Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center"

@ Jeffinwesternwa Have you earned the millions while permanently holding the third quintile? Unless you inherited a boatload of money or tax evasion, the math on this is hardly conceivable. Dare to explain your modality?

Almost to 99th percentile this past year and will hit it this year.

I'm in the top quintile. Don't think we've quite hit the top 10% but we're getting close.

If you're interested there is more detail on household income at the census site :

I'm in the 4th Quintile. Interesting, but what does it all mean?

92nd percentile for another 3 months and, after my retirement, we nose dive to the Third Quintile for a little over 2 years when my SS kicks in and then we'll settle into the Fourth Quintile for the long haul.

Bottom Earner, and trying so hard to change that.

Top Earner, 90th percentile, but only did that well this year due to DH's severance (retirement), going from public employee to private.

I thought I was a one percenter till I saw those numbers. I guess I need to go occupy something.

These numbers look gross, correct? I've seen AGI numbers that suggest 1% is more in the $350K range.

Interesting to see this level of granularity at the high end.

2010: between 95th and 96th percentile
2011: likely between fourth quintile and top earner

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