Fifty-one percent of working Americans make less than $30,000 a year, new data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) shows.
That’s $2,500 a month before taxes and just over the federal poverty level for a family of five. The new numbers come from the National Wage Index, which SSA updates each year based on reported wages subject to the federal income tax.
In 2014, half of working Americans reported an income at or below $28,851 (the median wage), and 51 percent reported an income of less than $30,000. Forty percent are making less than $20,000. The federal government considers a family of four living on an income of less than $24,250 to be impoverished.
A chart below from SSA shows that the difference between the median wage and the average wage continues to widen, signaling a declining middle class. These numbers are not adjusted for inflation.
The wage index doesn’t take into account the eight million Americans who are unemployed, or the tens of millions of working age Americans who are not participating in the job market. Nearly 40 percent of Americans are not working, which is the lowest participation rate since 1977.
Although the unemployment rate has dropped from double-digits in the height of the 2008 recession to about 5 percent in the latest jobs report, wages have remained largely stagnant.
Wages and share of income for the bottom 90 percent of American wage-earners declined over the past 40 years, as the foreign-born population increased dramatically, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS). (RELATED: Once Again Foreign-Born Jobs Are Up, U.S.-Born Jobs Down)
CRS charted the correlation between wages and the number of foreign-born workers in the U.S. between 1945 and 2010. Before 1970, wages rose sharply as the number of foreign-born persons declined. But after 1970, that population increased dramatically as wages stagnated, increased slightly and then dropped. (RELATED: Media Ignores Evidence Americans Want To Reduce Legal Immigration)
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