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What Is the Average Income in the USA? (2009 Data)
Where Is the Information?
Hubber dingdong asked this interesting question and I went looking for the answer, wonderig about it and having not seen an actual figure stated anywhere recently, especially during the Recession of 2008 - 2010. Here's what I have found:
Public records available in America include US Census data in a table for 2009 entitled
Wage and Salary Workers -- People 15 Years Old and Over, by Total Wage and Salary Income in 2009, Work Experience in 2009, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex
This is Table PINC-10 (see link in 2nd section below) of the Current Population Survey or CPS of the US Census, Annual Social and Economic (ASEC) Supplement.
This particular table includes the information needed to determine the average wage for all of the people that were recorded in the 2009 data set. This information is further broken into Full-Time and Part-Time workers, and further by demographics. The link below offers you an opportunity to see all the breakdowns. For this Hub question, I am using the data for the Full-Time workers aged 15 and older that were employed for 50 to 52 weeks in 2009.
We can calculate the Average Wage for the workers in question for 2009, but the table already gives that number to us. The figure quoted below is the average among everyone counted in the 2009 data who were 1) 15 years old or older, and 2) working 50 to 52 weeks during the year at 3) Full-Time hours.
This Average Wage or salary in 2009 per person was
Some readers may find this surprising. It seems correct mathematically from the figures gathered and calculated; but, who is making such large incomes to drive up the average? When we look at this figure, we can remember that in places like New York City and San Francisco or Los Angeles, California, the cost of living is higher than elsewhere and yearly salaries reflect this.
With the recession and business closures and layoffs, who is earning large incomes? Several of the analyst-chosen 100 Best Cities to Live in America (Money.com picks) and The Best Cities for Work/Business (Forbes.com ) demonstrate lesser harm done by the recession than in other cities. See the link below for high-wage careers advertised in this nation.
- Top 10 Highest Paying Jobs Advertised in America
Some of the most highly paid job titles in America may not be advertised at all. They may be within the hidden job market, or available only to Executive Recruiters/Head Hunters...
- How to Find the Highest Paying Jobs
A website connected with Employment and Training and the network of Career One Stops in the USA lists the highest paying jobs in the country...
Table I. Information from Table PINC-10
Table I. Information Sources
PINC-10. Wage and Salary Workers -- People 15 Years Old and Over, by Total Wage and Salary Income in 2009, Work Experience in 2009, Race, Hispanic Origin, and Sex. Data about confidentiality protection, sampling error, nonsampling error, and definitions is found at www.census.gov/apsd/techdoc/cps/cpsmar10.pdf. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, 2010 Annual Social and Economic Supplement.
You may review these charts and tables and find a source for other interesting Hubs for this topic. For instance, what is the average income for part-time workers? For Males? Females? Hispanics? Many possibilities exist.
High Wages vs. Low Wages
Here are some potentially shocking data to consider.
We see in the tables and charts that in 2009, 230,000 people in America worked 50 to 52 weeks Full-Time and made less than $2,500 for the year. Many of them made far less. How did this happen? The maximum in this low-income range is an average of $208.25 per month. What type of job offers this sort of low income? For some, it may be collecting tin cans for recycling, which is a non-wage, non-salary type of work. Another guess is that some of these workers may be individuals required to participate in work programs mandatory for receiving cash payments or food stamps under public assistance laws; they may receive a small stipend. In any event, these are all less-than-minimum wage jobs.
The US Federal Poverty Level for individuals in 2009 was $10,803. a bit more in Alaska and Hawaii. We see that 1,425,000 Full-Time workers earned only $12,500 to $14,999 for the year, a maximum of $1249.92 gross monthly income (before taxes/deductions). Net income was likely under $1,000/month. Workers at the low end of the range made $1041.67 gross. The lowest income cohorts in the US contain a lot of people.
A sizable proportion of Baby Boomers not old enough for Social Security Retirement were laid off in the recent recession, while others of them were househusbands/housewives with kids for 30 years and divorced at age 55+ They experienced difficulties inherent in a short work history, perhaps no college degree or high school education, and a reluctance of some employers to hire Seniors. Sure, they "should have been prepared", but they were not. A certain proportion of employers want workers ages 45+ to retire early; but many people must already work to age 70 to receive full Social Security benefits. What do we do for the intermediate 25 years? And, some seniors return to work in their late 60s and 70s at low wages.
Regardless, the low end of US income levels is shocking whens een on paper. American journalist Barbara Ehrenreich lived on essentially minimum wage only for approximately 9 months or so, chronicling the impossibility of existence at the low end fo the US income range. Read her documentary book Nickel and Dimed . related to this, a student of mine postponed GED studies to work two full-time fast-food jobs that helped support his young brothers and sisters. Another student went from 60-year-old high school dropout to LPN and then RN -- very low income, lots of low-paid work on the way up.
Some Views of American Wages and Work
US Income Data Close Up
Are We a Poor Nation or a Rich Nation?
The income level containing the largest number of workers is that of $100,000 per year and over, containing 9,533,000 Full-Time workers in 2009.
For 2010, the income level of "$250,000 and over" has been separated into a unique category and will be interesting in numbers of workers included after the end of 2010. How many will be in the top category?
The 2nd largest level of Full-Time earners is $30,000 - $32,499, with 6,575,000 workers. The 3rd largest level is $40,000 - $40,499, with almost 6 Mllion people.
Lower income levels also include sizable number of earners:
- $15,000 - $17,499: 3,243,000
- $17,500 - $19,999: 2,650,000
- $20,000 to $22,499 : 5,100,000
It may seem incredible that so many American residents earn extremes in wages and salries. The Graph below (with matching table) illustrates this fact visually. Along the horizonal axis, 1 = lowest income level in the accompanying table, 18 = highest income level). Workers in other levels besides these 18 comprise fewer than 1 Million people in each level.
I look forward to reviewing the 2010 data.