What Does the US Income Distribution Look Like if 1 pixel = $1?

(A scroller inspired by Josh Worth's If the Moon Were Only 1 Pixel.)

Scroll down to start making money.

You have earned: $


You have made it above the poverty line! If you are single and have no kids that is.

The poverty threshold for 1 adult in 2016 was $12,486.

The poverty threshold varies depending on age and family size but does not take into consideration cost-of-living differences.

You have made it above the poverty line if you and your partner are less than 65 years old and have no kids.

The poverty threshold for 2 adults under age 65 was $16,072.

You have made it above the poverty line if you and your partner have one child.

The poverty threshold for 2 adults and 1 child was $19,318.

You have made it above the poverty line if you and your partner have two kids.

The poverty threshold for 2 adults and 2 children was $24,339.

In 2016, 12.6 percent of Americans were living in poverty. That's 40.6 million people in poverty.

The US also has one of the worst child poverty rates in the world with nearly one in three children living in poverty.

We are starting to make our way into the middle class.

But what is the middle class?

There is no legal definition of the middle class. Instead, researchers have used various cutoffs usually based on income.

Some define the middle class as everyone except the lowest and highest 20% of earners.

Others consider the middle class to be households that fall in the middle 50 percent of the income distribution.

You have made it into the middle class! 40 percent of the population earn less than you so you are in the middle fifth of the income distribution which is another way some people define "middle class."

You now earn more than half the population. The median income in the US in 2016 was $59,039.

But the middle class may be defined more by its aspirations than by its income.

Families in the middle class tend to dream of owning a house and a car and want to be able to send their children to college.

They also desire health and retirement security and the ability to take the occasional family vacation.

Now you earn more than 60 percent of the population.

However, since the 1970s, the share of the population belonging to the middle class has been shrinking.

The income and wealth gap between the middle and upper classes has increased over time as the gains for middle- and lower-income households failed to keep pace with the upper class.

Wage growth has been mostly non-existent since the Great Recession.

Indeed, the median income in the US has been declining over the past four decades. The average pretax income of the bottom 50 percent has stagnated since 1980.

While the middle class has been losing ground, upper-income families have been flourishing.

In 1983, upper-income families had three times as much wealth as middle-income families.

Thirty years later, they had seven times as much wealth.

Complex factors such as globalization and technological change have allowed those at the top to reap more of the rewards while eliminating jobs that once provided steady middle class incomes.

You have made it into the top 10 percent of all income earners!

The top 10% had an income of at least $170,536 in 2016.

Inequality is now so severe that the top 10 percent average more than nine times as much income as the bottom 90 percent.

They also took more than half of the country's total income.

You are now in the top 5 percent!

The top 5% of earners had an income of at least $225,251 in 2016.

Income inequality in the US has been worsening since the 1970s.

The top 1 percent's income share is now almost twice as large as the bottom 50 percent's. Its share surpassed that of the bottom half in the mid-1990s and has only continued rising since.

While in 1980 the top 1 percent earned on average 27 times more than the bottom 50 percent, by 2016 they earned 81 times more.

Inequality has grown even at the top as the very richest saw their incomes rise the most.

The income share of the top 0.1 percent is now nearly equal to that of the entire bottom 50 percent's.

While the top 1 percent average over 40 times more income than the bottom 90 percent, those in the top 0.1 percent earned over 198 times more.

The growth in income inequality has been driven more by equity gains rather than wage increases which has allowed the wealthy to benefit most from stock market gains during the post-Recession recovery.

While worsening income inequality has been a global phenomenon, the issue has been particularly severe in the US.

Compared to other developed countries, the US has one of the worst levels of inequality.

And the gap has only been growing wider.

While some inequality helps spur economic growth, too much inequality can in fact lead to slower growth.

Too much inequality also allows the wealthy to influence policies that benefit themselves and deprives those from less privileged backgrounds the opportunity to achieve their full potential.

Now let's see what it looks like at the very top of the income distribution.

Hang on. It's going to take a while to get there.

You are now a millionaire! But it's going to take a lot more to make it to the very top.

The highest paying occupations are well-known ones like doctors, lawyers and engineers.

But the people at the very top of the income distribution tend to be CEOs and superstar athletes and entertainers.

You may want to just keep your finger pressed on the Page Down button.

We're only halfway to what the CEOs of America's largest companies were paid on average.

These CEOs earned more than the combined salaries of 264 median workers.

Even a top 5 percenter would have to work for over 69 years to make what these CEOs do in one year.

However, the bulk of CEO compensation comes in the form of stock options and bonuses instead of wages.

It's kind of mind-boggling how much the very wealthiest make isn't it?

And we're only heading towards what they were paid on average.

There are many who earned multiples more.

What would you do if you had this much money?

What does it say about us as a society that we allow the rich to keep getting richer while the rest of the population falls further behind?

Why do politicians keep passing laws that benefit the few at the expense of the majority?

Is it any wonder that so many feel abandoned and forgotten by a system that no longer works for them?

Do these individuals really generate this much value for society?

This is how much CEOs of the top 350 firms in America were paid on average in 2016. The CEO-to-worker pay ratio in 2016 was 271 to 1. While American workers have seen an 11.2 percent increase in their earnings since 1978 (adjusted for inflation), CEO compensation has soared by 937 percent.