Candy Graph

How to Compare Your Income to Others (Without Being Rude) [Using 2015 Census Data]

Note: this post revises an earlier article dated October 12, 2015 that was based on 2014 data published by the US Census Bureau. Since then, the 2015 data has been released so it’s time for an update.

Everyone likes to compare themselves to others—it’s basic human nature. But comparing your income to others is not a topic of polite conversation. This cultural bar makes complete sense. Whenever incomes are compared, inevitably someone emerges feeling at least a little inferior. No polite conversation should ever end that way.

Instead of making direct comparisons about income, some people compare in indirect ways, such as by mimicking purchases of their neighbors. Such “keeping up with the Joneses” is expensive and adds little to a person’s happiness (of course, it adds greatly to the happiness of retailers).

If you could compare your income to others without making impolite conversation or outspending your neighbors, would you do it? If your answer is “yes,” you’ve come to the right place.

The Current Population Survey and Annual Social and Economic Supplement

Each year, the US Census Bureau asks a large number of Americans detailed questions about their annual incomes—wages, interest, dividends, alimony, child support, rents, governmental benefits, etc. The latest version of this survey, known as the Current Population Survey and Annual Social and Economic Supplement (CPS ASEC), dates from the 2015 calendar year and was released on September 13, 2016. Surveyors conducted about 69,500 interviews of people residing in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Individuals 15 years and older were asked to report income received during 2015 from all sources except for noncash benefits such as food stamps or transportation subsidies.

The 2015 CPS ASEC reports income survey results for both households and individuals. For households, the survey results cover incomes between $5,000 and $250,000. Households below this range rank somewhere in the lower 3.37th percentile and households above this range rank somewhere in the upper 96.67th percentile. For individuals, the survey results cover incomes between $2,500 and $250,000. Individuals below this range rank in the lower 17.77th percentile and individuals above this range rank in the upper 99.08th percentile.

This post expands the 2015 CPS ASEC data by a process of linear interpolation and reports the results in two different formats: (1) an online interactive calculator; and (2) a pair of tables, one for households and one for individuals. No matter which format you choose, the reported percentiles will be identical.

To use the calculator, simply enter your annual gross income where indicated, click the “Show Income Rankings!” button, and view the results. If the result reported is “undefined,” this means that the income you entered is either below or above the range of reported incomes in the 2015 CPS ASEC.

To use either table, simply scroll down the “Income” column until you reach the dollar figure that’s nearest to but not over your household or individual income. The corresponding number in the next column, the “Percentile” column, reports where you rank in the survey.

Income Ranking Calculator

Enter your gross income here: $


Your household income ranking will appear in this space.

Your individual income ranking will appear in this space.

Table No. 1: Household Income Data from the 2015 CPS ASEC

If your household made at least x dollars in income, then y percent of households surveyed made less than you:

Income Percentile
$5,000 3.37%
$6,000 4.01%
$7,000 4.66%
$8,000 5.31%
$9,000 5.95%
$10,000 6.60%
$11,000 7.61%
$12,000 8.61%
$13,000 9.62%
$14,000 10.62%
$15,000 11.63%
$16,000 12.66%
$17,000 13.68%
$18,000 14.71%
$19,000 15.74%
$20,000 16.77%
$21,000 17.85%
$22,000 18.92%
$23,000 20.00%
$24,000 21.07%
$25,000 22.15%
$26,000 23.14%
$27,000 24.12%
$28,000 25.11%
$29,000 26.10%
$30,000 27.09%
$31,000 28.10%
$32,000 29.11%
$33,000 30.12%
$34,000 31.13%
$35,000 32.14%
$36,000 33.06%
$37,000 33.97%
$38,000 34.88%
$39,000 35.79%
$40,000 36.71%
$41,000 37.53%
$42,000 38.36%
$43,000 39.19%
$44,000 40.01%
$45,000 40.84%
$46,000 41.64%
$47,000 42.43%
$48,000 43.23%
$49,000 44.02%
$50,000 44.82%
$51,000 45.62%
$52,000 46.43%
$53,000 47.24%
$54,000 48.05%
$55,000 48.85%
$56,000 49.51%
$57,000 50.17%
$58,000 50.83%
$59,000 51.49%
$60,000 52.14%
$61,000 52.84%
$62,000 53.53%
$63,000 54.23%
$64,000 54.92%
$65,000 55.61%
$66,000 56.21%
$67,000 56.80%
$68,000 57.39%
$69,000 57.99%
$70,000 58.58%
$71,000 59.17%
$72,000 59.75%
$73,000 60.34%
$74,000 60.92%
$75,000 61.51%
$76,000 62.09%
$77,000 62.67%
$78,000 63.25%
$79,000 63.83%
$80,000 64.41%
$81,000 64.94%
$82,000 65.48%
$83,000 66.01%
$84,000 66.54%
$85,000 67.08%
$86,000 67.54%
$87,000 68.00%
$88,000 68.46%
$89,000 68.92%
$90,000 69.38%
$91,000 69.83%
$92,000 70.28%
$93,000 70.73%
$94,000 71.19%
$95,000 71.64%
$96,000 72.03%
$97,000 72.42%
$98,000 72.81%
$99,000 73.20%
$100,000 73.59%
$101,000 74.03%
$102,000 74.48%
$103,000 74.92%
$104,000 75.36%
$105,000 75.81%
$106,000 76.16%
$107,000 76.52%
$108,000 76.87%
$109,000 77.23%
$110,000 77.58%
$111,000 77.93%
$112,000 78.27%
$113,000 78.61%
$114,000 78.95%
$115,000 79.30%
$116,000 79.58%
$117,000 79.85%
$118,000 80.13%
$119,000 80.41%
$120,000 80.69%
$121,000 81.00%
$122,000 81.32%
$123,000 81.63%
$124,000 81.95%
$125,000 82.27%
$126,000 82.53%
$127,000 82.80%
$128,000 83.06%
$129,000 83.33%
$130,000 83.60%
$131,000 83.83%
$132,000 84.07%
$133,000 84.30%
$134,000 84.53%
$135,000 84.77%
$136,000 84.99%
$137,000 85.21%
$138,000 85.43%
$139,000 85.65%
$140,000 85.87%
$141,000 86.06%
$142,000 86.25%
$143,000 86.45%
$144,000 86.64%
$145,000 86.84%
$146,000 87.01%
$147,000 87.19%
$148,000 87.36%
$149,000 87.54%
$150,000 87.72%
$151,000 87.93%
$152,000 88.14%
$153,000 88.34%
$154,000 88.55%
$155,000 88.76%
$156,000 88.92%
$157,000 89.08%
$158,000 89.25%
$159,000 89.41%
$160,000 89.57%
$161,000 89.73%
$162,000 89.89%
$163,000 90.04%
$164,000 90.20%
$165,000 90.36%
$166,000 90.48%
$167,000 90.60%
$168,000 90.72%
$169,000 90.84%
$170,000 90.96%
$171,000 91.09%
$172,000 91.23%
$173,000 91.36%
$174,000 91.49%
$175,000 91.62%
$176,000 91.73%
$177,000 91.84%
$178,000 91.95%
$179,000 92.06%
$180,000 92.17%
$181,000 92.28%
$182,000 92.39%
$183,000 92.50%
$184,000 92.60%
$185,000 92.71%
$186,000 92.80%
$187,000 92.88%
$188,000 92.97%
$189,000 93.05%
$190,000 93.14%
$191,000 93.23%
$192,000 93.32%
$193,000 93.41%
$194,000 93.49%
$195,000 93.58%
$196,000 93.65%
$197,000 93.72%
$198,000 93.79%
$199,000 93.86%
$200,000 93.93%
$201,000 93.98%
$202,000 94.04%
$203,000 94.09%
$204,000 94.15%
$205,000 94.20%
$206,000 94.26%
$207,000 94.31%
$208,000 94.37%
$209,000 94.42%
$210,000 94.48%
$211,000 94.53%
$212,000 94.59%
$213,000 94.64%
$214,000 94.70%
$215,000 94.75%
$216,000 94.81%
$217,000 94.86%
$218,000 94.92%
$219,000 94.97%
$220,000 95.02%
$221,000 95.08%
$222,000 95.13%
$223,000 95.19%
$224,000 95.24%
$225,000 95.30%
$226,000 95.35%
$227,000 95.41%
$228,000 95.46%
$229,000 95.52%
$230,000 95.57%
$231,000 95.63%
$232,000 95.68%
$233,000 95.74%
$234,000 95.79%
$235,000 95.85%
$236,000 95.90%
$237,000 95.96%
$238,000 96.01%
$239,000 96.07%
$240,000 96.12%
$241,000 96.18%
$242,000 96.23%
$243,000 96.29%
$244,000 96.34%
$245,000 96.40%
$246,000 96.45%
$247,000 96.51%
$248,000 96.56%
$249,000 96.62%
$250,000 96.67%

Source: https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/cps-hinc.html, HINC-01 & HINC-06

Table No. 2: Individual Income Data from the 2015 CPS ASEC

If you individually made at least x dollars in income, then y percent of individuals surveyed made less than you:

Income Percentile
$2,500 17.77%
$3,000 18.26%
$3,500 18.74%
$4,000 19.23%
$4,500 19.71%
$5,000 20.20%
$5,500 20.79%
$6,000 21.39%
$6,500 21.98%
$7,000 22.57%
$7,500 23.17%
$8,000 23.99%
$8,500 24.80%
$9,000 25.62%
$9,500 26.44%
$10,000 27.26%
$10,500 28.23%
$11,000 29.19%
$11,500 30.16%
$12,000 31.13%
$12,500 32.09%
$13,000 32.79%
$13,500 33.49%
$14,000 34.19%
$14,500 34.88%
$15,000 35.58%
$15,500 36.41%
$16,000 37.24%
$16,500 38.06%
$17,000 38.89%
$17,500 39.72%
$18,000 40.34%
$18,500 40.95%
$19,000 41.57%
$19,500 42.18%
$20,000 42.80%
$20,500 43.65%
$21,000 44.51%
$21,500 45.36%
$22,000 46.22%
$22,500 47.07%
$23,000 47.61%
$23,500 48.15%
$24,000 48.69%
$24,500 49.23%
$25,000 49.77%
$25,500 50.52%
$26,000 51.26%
$26,500 52.01%
$27,000 52.76%
$27,500 53.50%
$28,000 53.93%
$28,500 54.36%
$29,000 54.79%
$29,500 55.22%
$30,000 55.65%
$30,500 56.46%
$31,000 57.26%
$31,500 58.07%
$32,000 58.88%
$32,500 59.68%
$33,000 60.03%
$33,500 60.37%
$34,000 60.71%
$34,500 61.06%
$35,000 61.40%
$35,500 62.02%
$36,000 62.64%
$36,500 63.25%
$37,000 63.87%
$37,500 64.49%
$38,000 64.80%
$38,500 65.10%
$39,000 65.41%
$39,500 65.71%
$40,000 66.01%
$40,500 66.64%
$41,000 67.27%
$41,500 67.90%
$42,000 68.52%
$42,500 69.15%
$43,000 69.39%
$43,500 69.63%
$44,000 69.88%
$44,500 70.12%
$45,000 70.36%
$45,500 70.80%
$46,000 71.25%
$46,500 71.69%
$47,000 72.13%
$47,500 72.58%
$48,000 72.83%
$48,500 73.08%
$49,000 73.33%
$49,500 73.58%
$50,000 73.82%
$52,500 76.59%
$55,000 77.55%
$57,500 79.04%
$60,000 79.84%
$62,500 81.80%
$65,000 82.53%
$67,500 83.81%
$70,000 84.39%
$72,500 85.65%
$75,000 86.18%
$77,500 87.32%
$80,000 87.82%
$82,500 88.88%
$85,000 89.28%
$87,500 89.86%
$90,000 90.19%
$92,500 90.96%
$95,000 91.23%
$97,500 91.65%
$100,000 91.95%
$105,000 92.44%
$110,000 92.92%
$115,000 93.40%
$120,000 93.88%
$125,000 94.36%
$130,000 94.85%
$135,000 95.33%
$140,000 95.81%
$145,000 96.29%
$150,000 96.78%
$155,000 96.94%
$160,000 97.11%
$165,000 97.27%
$170,000 97.44%
$175,000 97.60%
$180,000 97.77%
$185,000 97.93%
$190,000 98.10%
$195,000 98.26%
$200,000 98.43%
$205,000 98.49%
$210,000 98.56%
$215,000 98.62%
$220,000 98.69%
$225,000 98.75%
$230,000 98.82%
$235,000 98.88%
$240,000 98.95%
$245,000 99.01%
$250,000 99.08%

Source: http://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/income-poverty/cps-pinc.html, PINC-01 & PINC-11

*   *   *

If you’d like to explore more Frugal Fringe calculators, click any of the following:

Photo Credit: John

Get Articles Via Email

Binge on the Frugal Fringe! Enter your email address to get future posts delivered to your inbox.

8 Responses to How to Compare Your Income to Others (Without Being Rude) [Using 2015 Census Data]

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher December 15, 2016 at 9:53 AM #

    Oooh, this is actually really good info to have. It’s always a little tough to truly compare your income to others, since living in different areas comes with different costs and incomes as well. For example, the average income in our city is quite low, but the cost of living is also low. But that makes it even easier for us to save more of our income, so I’m okay with that. 🙂
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Easy Homemade Yeast Rolls RecipeMy Profile

    • A Noonan Moose December 15, 2016 at 10:02 AM #

      Good points MPP–and thanks for stopping in!

  2. Free to Pursue December 15, 2016 at 11:02 AM #

    I always find it funny that we just do “OK” when it comes to income percentile, but rock it when it comes to net worth…just goes to show that what we make matters, but how much of it we keep matters more! 🙂

    Love these, as usual Noonan. Thanks for offering something unique within the PF blogosphere. Much appreciated.
    Free to Pursue recently posted…Wealthy or Rich? Which Would You Rather Be?My Profile

    • A Noonan Moose December 15, 2016 at 11:32 AM #

      Thanks so much for the kind words F2P!

  3. Kurt December 15, 2016 at 11:09 AM #

    Oooh, it is fun to compare. The most visited post on my blog is a net worth comparision–it comes up when someone searches something like ‘how does my net worth compare?’. The sort of competition can become self-destructive though if it takes the form of unaffordable conspicuous consumption.
    Kurt recently posted…Benefits of Debt FreedomMy Profile

    • A Noonan Moose December 15, 2016 at 11:50 AM #

      Great point about destructive spending competitions. It’s so much more rewarding to pursue inconspicuous wealth.

  4. Avery Breyer December 19, 2016 at 6:03 PM #

    Love the headline, you piqued my curiosity because this is such a taboo topic and I wanted to know what you were going to say 🙂

    The tendency for people to feel inferior when they find out they make less than someone else is a strong thing, and so common. Thanks to the census, everyone can take a look at the trends in private!

    • A Noonan Moose December 19, 2016 at 7:40 PM #

      Avery–very glad you stopped by to sneak a peak!

DISCLAIMER. All information on this website appears on an "AS IS" basis. A Noonan Moose makes no representations to any reader as to the completeness, accuracy, or suitability of the information that appears on this website. A Noonan Moose specifically disclaims liability of any kind for any damage or loss that arises from any of the information published on this website or in the book Spend Less Now!