Saturday, October 22, 2011

US median wage is just $4000 above the "family of 4" poverty line

Reported at NASDAQ:

The 3-decade shift of income to the economic elite
The Social Security Administration released data on U.S. wages and payroll in 2010 this week, and the news isn't good for most of the working class or middle class.

Though the average wage of a single earner stood at $39,959.30 per year, that number was skewed by those at the very top of the survey - the 93,725 earners who took home more than $1 million annually. That top sliver - a fraction of a fraction of the top 1 percent - collectively took home $224.6 billion, or about $2.4 million per top earner. (Ed. note - over a quarter of total W2-type wage income, that figure does not include income from sources such as capital gains.)

The median wage for the 150 million workers surveyed in 2010 was just $26,363.55 per person. For comparison, the poverty line for an average 4-person household is set at $22,350, while the line for a single person living alone comes in at $10,890.

When one end or the other of a set becomes skewed, averages become extremely misleading. The $40,000-per-year figure seems reasonable until you realize that just over 66 percent of all workers come in under that number...

In more prosperous times, it might have been safe to assume that the average 4-person household contained two wage earners, but with U-6 unemployment at a seasonally adjusted rate of 16.5 percent in September, that's far from certain. It looks like half of all American families are a single layoff away from living in poverty.

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