TL;DR The households of the 1% by income compared to the normal US households are White, college educated, professionals, work in services and are older.
If you want to become one of this very wealthy group in the future, go to college, get married and become a working professional. Here are some mobile-friendly charts and visualizations to explore the demographics and composition of who makes up the highest income earners in the US are and what they did to get there.
Tip! You can hover or click on the graphs for more detailed information.
The households of the 1% have a median income over 22 times as high as median for all US households. This is a tremendously large advantage to these wealthy families to build their net worth.
Looking at their net worth, they are even wealthier at 93 times as much wealth than the median US household. It seems as though the highest income earners are able to save and build a disproportionately large amount of money compared average Americans.
Generally, 1%er households are older, with almost none younger than 35 years old.
Compared to overall US population, the head of households of the 1% tend to be much more highly educated. Almost all of the highest income earners in the country have college degrees.
The 1% is overwhelmingly employed in white collared professions. Here’s an explanation in more detail of which jobs fit in which category:
- White Collar: This category is generally what you would think of as college-educated professionals and managers. Typically these jobs are salaried and based in office environments. It includes jobs such as CEO’s, managers, analysts, computer professionals, scientists, researchers, lawyers, entertainers, educators, doctors, nurses, and other skilled health professionals.
- Grey Collar: This category is includes technical, sales, and service jobs. Typically, these are hourly jobs that require some formal training, apprenticeships, or specialization. These jobs include front-line supervisors of grey and blue collared employees, clerks, sales people, administrators, agents, food prep, technicians, and operators.
- Blue Collar: These are hourly workers who are typically not college educated. These jobs typically do not require much as formal training, but it does include many skilled professionals who work in manufacturing settings. This includes production, craft, repair, operational and general laborers. It also includes miscellaneous workers.
- Not Working: These workers are not employed.
The families of the 1% also tend to be much more likely to be married. Stress over money is one of the major contributors to divorce, so their wealth may help stabilize marriages.
The 1% have a higher percentage of white people than the households of the overall US population. The non-white category includes Hispanics.
The 1% primarily work in non-production based industries. Services & Other includes high income industries such as finance, insurance and real estate (FIRE). Here’s an explanation of the groupings:
- Production: These are industries that are involved in mining, manufacturing, and construction.
- Services & Other: These group is basically everything else including transportation, communications, utilities, retail, government, finance, insurance, real estate, etc
- Not Working: These head of households are not working.
Note: The data used to generate these graphs are freely available from the Federal Reserve SCF. There is a known tendency for the SCF to over-sample the ultra-wealthy, such as the 1%, which causes the numbers from the SCF to have higher income and net worth of the 1% compared to other surveys. Use this data for generalizations on the 1%, but keep in mind all sampling of this group are hard due to low response rates.