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The December 2023 distribution of personal income release adds full data for 2021 and provisional data for 2022. Estimates for 2021 are available as a separate file, consistent with previous releases. Full estimates for 2000-2021 are available in a pooled summary file. Given the importance of providing timely data, extrapolations were made for several income sources with unavailable data to provide distributional estimates for 2022 (provisional summary file). Because the top 1% and top 5% income shares are substantially influenced by not-yet-available Statistics of Income source data for 2022, interval ranges are provided for these estimates.

The statistics released on Dec. 13, 2023, incorporate the comprehensive update and minor methodological changes compared with the prototype statistics that were released in December 2022. Tables and charts featured on this webpage also have been updated to reflect these improvements. Estimates have been updated for 2000-2021 and provisional estimates have been added for 2022. The reference year for real estimates has been updated to 2017 (previously it was 2012).

This year, BEA completed a comprehensive update (CU) which had a direct impact on both NIPA totals and the distribution of personal income, due to changes in the relative contributions of proprietors’ income and income receipts on assets. Given that proprietors’ income is very unevenly distributed, with about 80% accruing to the top income decile, incomes for those at the top (especially the top 1%) were revised downwards. Although interest income is more evenly distributed in the distribution, it too is relatively unequal with about 50% accruing to the top decile. Therefore, the net effect of the CU was a fall in inequality overall, and particularly top shares (top 5% share down 0.3pp on average for 20122020).

For this release, we received a disaggregation of partnership returns and scorporation returns from the IRS Statistics of Income (SOI) program. In order to estimate the distribution of proprietors’ income, we construct a weighted average of these two distributions, proportional to their shares in the aggregate NIPA total. Given that there is a higher proportion of partnership returns (relative to S-corporation returns) for top incomes, this led to an increase in the top 5% share of 0.3pp on average for 2000-2011.

Decile shares of personal income and disposable personal income for 2000-2021 are now available for data users as iTable 2.10. In response to user feedback, we now provide a summary file to enable comparison of trends over time by component and quantile. This summary file (and accompanying note) contain all available metrics for all years, rather than compiling individual year-downloads. The most recent full set of data (year 2021) is available as its own file, in the same format as previous releases, in order to provide context for the summary file. Provisional data for 2022 is also uploaded separately. The same file structure is provided for the OECD metrics.

Projecting provisional estimates for 2022 allows us to observe the distribution before and after the COVID pandemic, and associated government transfers. The substantial drop in inequality from 2019 to 2020, and subsequently low level in 2021, is primarily due to the effects of expanded unemployment insurance (UI), the economic impact payments (EIP), and the advance child tax credit (CTC).  


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