We recently looked at how much a household would need to earn in order to be in the top 1% of the income distribution in each state. Now, we found that cutoff for the twenty largest US cities.
We used data from the Minnesota Population Center’s IPUMS, a modified (for statistical and privacy reasons) version of the individual responses to the Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey. From those data, we estimated the annual household income (rounded to the nearest thousand dollars) needed to be in the top 1% in the twenty largest Metropolitan Statistical Areas:
Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Minnesota Population Center 2012 ACS IPUMS
As one might expect, the cutoffs for the top 1% are higher in the big coastal cities than in other parts of the country. To be in the top 1% in New York, Boston, Washington, and San Francisco, you’ll need to be pulling in over a half million dollars per year.
As we noted in our discussion of the states, these should be taken as very rough estimates. Survey data often has trouble capturing the full picture of very high earners.
To see whether you’re in the top or bottom half of your city, and to compare to the top 1%, here’s the median income for each of the twenty metro areas, again rounded to the nearest thousand:
Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from 2012 American Community Survey Estimates