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In 2010, 81 people in the United States earned $50 million or more, according to Social Security Administration pay data. But the median income, the amount that 50% of people earned less than and 50 percent of people earned more than, was $26,363.55. David Cay Johnston points out that that's a decrease of 1.2 percent, and that the $507 weekly paycheck it works out to is the lowest since 1999.

A substantial number of people earning below the median did not work full-time throughout the year—33 percent of people earned less than $15,000, roughly the amount a full-time minimum-wage worker makes. But, as we know, there are close to 10 million people in the country who are working part-time involuntarily, because they can't find full-time work. And there are many more who were employed full-time for part of the year before being laid off and having their annual income pushed down by a period of unemployment.

Then there are the people who didn't earn anything:

3.3 percent of people who had a job in 2007, or one in every 30, went all of 2010 without earning a dollar.

In addition to the 5.2 million people who no longer have any work add roughly 4.5 million people who, due to population growth, would normally join the workforce in three years and you have close to 10 million workers who did not find even an hour of paid work in 2010.

But, Johnston notes, the number of people making $1 million or more went from 78,000 to nearly 94,000, rebounding toward its 2007 number of 110,000. So don't say there's no good news in this data. For a few people, in fact, there's very good news. And it's them Republicans are fighting for, as always.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 12:45 PM PDT.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, Progressive Hippie, Daily Kos, and Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  (raises hand) /nt (11+ / 0-)

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 12:46:29 PM PDT

  •  So how do we turn OWS from protest into (9+ / 0-)

    political action? To me that's still the mystery. The Teahadists had a plan, elect anyone who hated Obama. Simple, ugly, but effective. What is our plan?

    GOP 2012 -- Austerity is just around the corner!

    by ontheleftcoast on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 12:52:10 PM PDT

  •  Isn't lowering salaries supposed (11+ / 0-)

    to create jobs? Once again liberal facts disprove Republican talking points. Not that Repubs will listen.

    Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Louis D. Brandeis

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:34:43 PM PDT

    •  That's what the UAW believes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HugoDog, FarWestGirl

      Same mentality as prominent Mexican unions.

      We'll supress wages, and hope that "el patron" hires more people, out of the kindness of his heart.

      Well, it's sickening in Mexico, and as despicable here.

      If a GOP Governor had imposed the UAW-negotiated contract on the rank-and-file, Dems would be marching in the state capitol.

      But because it's the UAW....

      Learn about Centrist Economics, learn about Robert Rubin's Hamilton Project.

      by PatriciaVa on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:37:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Remember: this does NOT include capital gains (12+ / 0-)

    I was wondering how only 81 people in the whole USA could have earned over $50 million last year when the IRS reports on the top 400 earning tax returns each year, and it takes well over $100 million just to make that list.

    This data comes from Social Security, and the linked page explains this is only wages, tips, etc...... what goes on the first income line of the tax form.

    No capital gains, no business income, no dividend/interest income, no rents/royalties, etc., etc., etc.

    Just one more example of how the 1% have sucked the life out of the 99%

    Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

    by databob on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:40:23 PM PDT

  •  I can only aspire to 26K. (12+ / 0-)

    I'm not even close to it. How sad is that?

    I'd chat about it some more but a bunch of us have been called in to work in the middle of the night, so I'm going to get zome zzzz's first.

    I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

    by Lightbulb on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:42:04 PM PDT

  •  Of course... (5+ / 0-)

    these situation will be alleviated by imposing a flat tax that increases the tax burden on the poor and middle class.

    Anyone who earns less than a million a year who intends to vote GOPer in 2012 is fucking nuts.

  •  The goal of US economic policy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    asterkitty, davidincleveland

    should be to maximize the product of those two lines. More jobs with higher pay at the median.

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:42:26 PM PDT

    •  That Would Require Someone Running a National (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue aardvark, davidincleveland

      economy as opposed to markets.

      Too much, leadership is running markets not the country.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:52:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You mean not rely on the Invisible Hand? (0+ / 0-)

        You must be a socialist or a Nazi. Or a Kenyan Muslim. Or a Communist fascist.

        Or some other reason why no one should listen to you. Maybe gay or brown.

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 02:08:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  $507 weekly paycheck (5+ / 0-)

    And, wouldn't that be before payroll taxes and even income taxes. Aren't income taxes taken out, but then refunded if you qualify later on your tax return?

    America is so not like her hype.

    by OLinda on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:43:39 PM PDT

    •  Income taxes might be withheld (3+ / 0-)

      There is the option to not have any income tax withheld if the person paid no taxes the previous year and does not anticipate any tax liability in the current year.

      But don't forget they still have to pay 7.65% in Social Security - $2,000 for the median earnings of $26k.

      Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

      by databob on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:49:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually.... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, Medicare and FICA taxes are automatically taken out of all American's paychecks.  Income taxes are taken out depending on how an individual fills out their W-4.  In many cases, people can claim enough on this form to have little-to-no federal income taxes taken out.  Same goes for state income tax withholding for states that have a state income tax.  

      In any case, a $507 weekly paycheck might be enough to get by on in some parts of the South and maybe some parts of the Midwest....maybe some others.  But, generally, you're pretty much hurting.  Now, if both members of a marriage realize this amount, that's a different story depending on kids, lifestyle, where they live, etc.

      It should be far higher, no doubt.  Looks like a whole bunch of folks have been relegated to working for Walmart or Family Dollar Store or various burger places because of the major, longterm downturn in our economy.

      - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

      by r2did2 on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 03:16:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Unfortunately That's Who CONSERVATIVES Are (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    djsands, davidincleveland

    fighting for. It's not limited to Republicans.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:48:14 PM PDT

  •  ::sigh:: (6+ / 0-)

    my head hurts

    my stomach hurts

    and my heart hurts

    when I see this stuff all laid out in front of me like this.

    The pain is being felt in all the wrong places.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:49:32 PM PDT

  •  This is bad news for America's businesspeople. (11+ / 0-)

    Members of the middle class, working class and working poor are your customers.  If they've got disposable income in their pockets they might wander into your store and buy something.  If I was in the entrepreneurial class I would try to do something about this... just for selfish reasons.

    Barack Obama in the Oval Office: There's a black man who knows his place.

    by Greasy Grant on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 01:50:45 PM PDT

    •  and that is the point of Keynes. (6+ / 0-)

      Something has got to keep them circulation of money flowing. Right now there is a Hoover Damn in the multinationals' bank accounts, and a mere trickle is coming out to the rest of us. (And yet, BofA wants to make that trickle underwrite $53 trillion in bad debt, even though the US GDP is only $14 trillion.)

      •  Hoover is a good word... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        worldlotus, Greasy Grant

        I use it in 'Hoover effect', my term for the way that Wall Street sucks money up from Main Street (vacuum cleaner).

        And, of course, Herbert Hoover was President during the '29 crash and beginning of the Great Depression.

        One word, appropo meanings in this conversation.... that's efficiency!

        Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

        by databob on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 02:05:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I can't even imagine raising a family on this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    davidincleveland, Flying Goat

    I'm sorry. I don't mean to sound arrogant or proud.  Maybe I'm still very naive.  I make over $120,000 per year right now.  I have a wife and four daughters.  I drive a 8 year old jeep with 94,000 miles on it and my wife has a minivan.  We don't eat out all the time and we don't by expensive gifts.  Even after using my GI Bill from the Army, I still have $40,000 in student loans.  Due to a severe neurological condition my wife has, we spend more per month on medical bills than most people do on their car payment.  And I have great insurance, I work for a hospital.

    When I see people making $20k-$30k per year, I can't imagine how they are getting by.

    "Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.'" - Isaac Asimov

    by sgtlejeune on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 02:02:22 PM PDT

    •  As a single grad student, no car, no mortgage, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      no family, it wasn't hard.  As a single professional earning quite a lot more, I still live on under $25k a year, though that's after-tax income.  But I couldn't imagine living my entire life with an income that low.

      While I'm not sure how to fix the problem, I think Medicare for all and free higher education would make it much easier to live on lower incomes.

      I'd also like to see a higher minimum wage.  Also, corporations can deduct "business expenses" so they only pay taxes on profits...  Seems like personal deductions should be aimed more at being the level of living expenses, and people should only pay income taxes on "profits", with higher marginal taxes rates for income beyond that than we have now, particularly for the rich, but even for those who are just relative well off.

    •  Barely. (0+ / 0-)

      I could tell you stories about homelessness, homeless shelters, sleeping in the parks, dumpster diving, food pantries, soup kitchens, and so forth.

      No issues with mental health, or alcohol/drugs, or things like that.

      I write the series Confessions of a Retail Worker here on DK. It documents my life in a non-unionized workplace.

      by Lightbulb on Fri Oct 21, 2011 at 02:14:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  If they aren't rich, they should blame themselves. (0+ / 0-)

    Obviously the problem lies individually with half of American wage-earners and in no way could you infer a systemic problem from this.

    I agree that it's not particularly courageous to solve a problem on the backs of people who are poor, or people who are powerless, or don't have lobbyists, or don't have clout.

    by teknofyl on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 02:13:52 PM PDT

  •  wow I did great according (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Into The Woods

    to this horrific number. It only tells part of the story. It does not tell what it is like to try and live decently, productively, with a modicum of dignity or self determinationization      with only 26,000 dollars a year in income. In an economy that requires people to make over 60,000 to even procure the basic's like decent housing, decent food, decent medical access, or a decent school for your children. Does this mean I just think I'm poor?

    Numbers and polls and stats do not tell the real story. The numbers reflect how impossible it is to live outside the fictitious dream that says your a loser if you cannot keep up with the race to the top. How do these people live? What do these numbers mean to the quality or even basic survival level of the half that are subjected to an 'economy' that just writes them off as losers and a profit loss. Really telling and just shows how disconnected or sociopathic our representatives are in regards to the reality they all work to maintain. the losers the people who cannot compete, as they are shut out,  are growing everyday.    

    •  median household is $45,000 (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      howd, Sparhawk

      I'm not sure how that household number compares to this "wage earner" number.

      I don't think it's as simple as households divided by two. And a retiree with a small wage for a part-time job an a pension/social security would have a small wage and a larger income.

      But I don't understand how the two compare.

      •  There is more to an (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        economy then just medians or stats their is the reality  on the ground.The reality of feeding,  clothing, and keeping a roof over your head is not static it is not included in these numbers. Math alone does not the story tell.  

      •  Household is estimated from census data (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        It's probably more complicated than either you or I is interested in plumbing to its full depths, but Wiki has a good general look:

        Household Income

        Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain. Friedrich Schiller

        by databob on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 03:55:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  data moves (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Into The Woods, worldlotus

          after the facts or the reality that is being measured. I make my living off stats off the measurements inhuman, just the numbers that measure . I cannot even begin to tell the tales of human reality on the ground in real time that these stats paper over.  As I said math alone does not tell the story of what it is like to live in a world where growth and people are just numbers to compare. The measurements while mathematically correct can not calculate the real world misery we are all living under. No matter how many members of your house hold are slaving away for a pittance of what it takes to live decently. What do these measurement do but tell us were screwed.    

      •  Households vs Wage Earners and Different "income" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        150,398,796 total wage earners

        50%:  75,199,398 wage earners.

        The national average wage index (AWI) is based on compensation (wages, tips, and the like) subject to Federal income taxes, as reported by employers on Forms W-2.

        Real median household income was $49,445 in 2010, a 2.3 percent decline from 2009 (Figure 1 and Table 1).

        118,682,000 Million Households Total

        50%: 59,341,000.

        Number of wage earners per 'household': 1.267.

        Income. For each person in the sample who is 15 years old and over, questions are asked on the amount of money income received in the preceding calendar year from each of the following sources: (1) money wages or salary; (2) net income from nonfarm self-employment; (3) net income from farm self-employment; (4) Social Security or railroad retirement; (5) Supplemental Security Income; (6) public assistance or welfare payments; (7) interest (on savings or bonds); (8) dividends, income from estates or trusts, or net rental income; (9) veterans' payment or unemployment and workmen's compensation; (10) private pensions or government employee pensions; (11) alimony or child support, regular contributions from persons not living in the household, and other periodic income.

        For definitions of Census date income report:  

        Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

        by Into The Woods on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 04:52:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes they are probally right (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Into The Woods, worldlotus

          I'm not questioning the data but the story that is not mathematical behind the data. You can calculate the numbers and figure out the median income down to the penny my point is what kind of life do the people have? Think about how hard it is to live on these meager incomes, combined sliced and diced for the actual people. Their income is less and less livable with no way out. Sure they can survive but at what level and at what price to thier humanity and to our society.

           I look to the vast poor exurbs here in my city and wonder how can people who have to work for wages that are not livable and have to pool their incomes to survive on a basic level be considered average or written off as the price we must all pay for maintaining the profits of the too big's whose vision of the world if realized will make us all working poor grateful to live in a world where we at least survive regardless of our conditions and common good. As I said there is more to the story then the math it's the damage done and the reality of this economy on the 50% lining on 26,000 combined or not. It's not a pretty story.      

  •  Average Income for Bottom 66% = $16,231. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe wobblie, NeuronFlash, Lightbulb

    Average Income for the Bottom 50%*:  $12,322.

    Adding up the aggregate compensation for each of the categories then dividing by the cummulative number of wage earners produces these numbers.  

    *These numbers include the compensation and cummuluative numbers for those making up to $29,999 (in excess of the $26,363 median income) and so are slightly higher than the true 50% would be.

    Aggregate Compensation for 6 categories of $0 through $29,999:


    Cummulative Number of workers in those categories:


    Check my math, but for the bottom half of our country to be averaging $12,332 is shocking.

    Adding the compensation from the next two categories (up to $39,999) gets you to 66%:


    Cummulative Number of workers in bottom 66%:


    Someone in a very expensive suit is at the front door and says he wants to foreclose on our democracy. Where should I tell him he can put his robosigning pen?

    by Into The Woods on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 04:25:05 PM PDT

  •  Diaries like this one need a whole LOT more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    attention than they get.  

    This is part and parcel of the OWS and 99% but I guess the lack of either as a headline tag left it behind.  No matter: this is critical data for all to know. Tipped, rec'd and hotlisted.

    Thank you for putting this one out there!

    Progress occurs when courageous, skillful leaders seize the opportunity to change things for the better. -- Harry S Truman

    by YucatanMan on Thu Oct 20, 2011 at 11:15:55 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for using Median rather than Mean (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    GOP 1% apologists like to trot out the Mean average (which is pulled higher because of the extreme incomes of the 1%).

    The median average displays reality.

    'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.' - Mark Twain

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