Moral Low Ground


U.S. Median Income Falls to 1999 Level of $26,364; Number of Americans Earning at least $1 Million Up 20% from ’09

October 20, 2011 by Brett Wilkins in Rich & Poor with 0 Comments

The median income in the United States has fallen to its lowest level since the last century, even as the number of Americans earning at least a million dollars a year has increased by more than 20% since 2009.

 David Cay Johnston at Reuters, who is just about the only journalist in the mainstream media to report on these numbers year after year, has once again spotlighted the falling median paychecks in the United States. His data comes straight from the Medicare tax database at the Social Security Administration, which processes all W-2 forms in the country.

The numbers are not pretty.

The median paycheck, meaning that half of all Americans earned more and half earned less, fell 1.2% from 2010 to $26,364. When adjusted for inflation, that figure– $507/week– is the lowest since 1999. There were half a million fewer overall jobs in 2010 as well– 150.4 million total. The number of Americans with any work at all has dropped 5.2% since 2007, the start of the economic collapse.

Average pay did increase– up $46 to $39,959. This negligible rise was due to increases at the top end of the pay scale. Indeed, the number of workers earning $1 million or more per year soared more than 20% from 78,000 to 94,000. The number making $50 million or more per year rose from 72 to 81, although their average paycheck declined $4.5 million to $79.6 million.

That’s nearly 2,000 times as much as the average American worker earned.

A new study from former Census Bureau officials Gordon Green and John Code shows that incomes have actually fallen more than twice as much during the so-called ‘recovery’ than they did during the recession (technically dated December 2007- June 2009) itself. Americans’ incomes dropped 6.7 in the period from June 2009 through June 2011, while they fell only 3.2 percent during the official recession period.

According to the Huffington Post, median U.S. income has declined 7% over the last decade.

Meanwhile, Johnston points out that corporations are sitting on more than $2,000,000,000,000 in cash— $7,000 for every American man, woman and child– and Republicans in Congress continue to block any attempt by President Barack Obama to create more jobs, focusing on tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest Americans. And despite crashing the global economy, Wall Street firms are once again reaping record profits while millions of people’s financial lives have been ruined by their unpunished crimes.

And there are still millions of Americans who wonder why so many people have taken to the streets to join the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement?

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