Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The 2014 Average Income of the 81 Million Lowest Paid Half of American Workers: $12,681

US Wage statistics for 2014 published this month by the US Government, Social Security Agency, Office of the Chief Actuary show that half of all US wage earners have a net income from employment less than or equal to $28,851.21. That may not be terrific but it sounds OK until you realize that the 99.9999% of the lowest paid half of the American workforce are earning, well, less than  $28,851.21, which may make you wonder what the average wage of the lowest paid half of the American workforce is.

And it turns out that the average wage of the 81 million Americans making up the lowest-paid half of the workforce is $12,681, which ain't noways so great. In fact it's so low that when, some time ago, I worked out the equivalent number from US Government data published for the year 2011, some fella, a regular commenter over at Prof. Mark Perry's American Enterprise Institute blog, repeatedly called me a liar and never could grasp the basic fact that most American workers are either poor or really poor. Let me say that again, most American workers are either poor or, really poor.

While the numbers for 2014 are little different from those for 2011, the trend is interesting. Over the three years, the income of the bottom 50% of American wage earners has risen from $12,400 to $12,681 or an increase of 2.2%, but if we assume an implausibly low inflation rate of 2% (some people think the real rate is more like 5 or 10%) the average earnings of the most poorly paid 50% of the American workforce has declined by almost 6% in the last three years. 

But here's the good news: the number of folks earning more than $50 million a piece increased between 2011 and 2014 by 53%, and their average compensation increased by a handy 8% from a mere $79,783,529.77 to all of $86,304,701.27 — yes, that's an increase of eight million bucks each.

Update: 2017
Median income: $31,561, up 9% over 2014
The number earning more than $50 million, up by 53%, with mean earnings up 13% over 2014

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