Income Distribution in the USA

Imagine the population of the United States stretched across a football field in order of income, from poorest to richest with the median income at the 50-yard line. Now put a stack of $100 bills representing each person’s income on the field, where a 1-inch stack of $100 bills is $25,000.

The stack gets gradually higher, from 0 to about 2 inches ($39,000) at the 50-yard line. It’s about 4-inches high, representing $132,000 at the 95-yard line, which means that 95% of population’s income is shown in less than 4 inches. Well past the 99-yard line that you hit the million mark: a stack of $100 bills 40-inches high. At the far, far end is a tiny sliver of width that is the richest people. Although this information is dated, Bill Gates in his largest income year would be represented by a stack of bills over 7890 miles high ( $50 billion). So lets bring things back to earth: According to Forbes, Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle, made more than $706 million in 2002 – that would be a stack of bills about 111.5 miles high.

The L-Curve has a graph that better illustrates this.