One startling reality is that 72,000,000+ Americans earn $25,000 or less each year (almost half the wage earning population). This is why when we look at the median household income of $50,000 we come to the stark realization that two incomes are necessary just to stay above water. When only a few decades ago one blue collar income was enough for a middle class way of life (i.e., modest home, a path to a public college, etc) now two incomes are barely enough to pay for the daily necessities.
Another 34 million Americans earn an average of $25,001 to $45,000 per year while 33 million earn between $45,001 and $99,999. Going up to an average of $99,999 covers 93 percent of all individual wage earners in the country. This is where the vast majority of Americans reside. The numbers quickly dwindle as expected when we hit the upper income ranges. What is interesting is the vast difference between those who earn $20 million and $49 million and those who make over $50 million. The data reveals that over 353 Americans earned between $20 and $49 million and the average amount was $28 million. Compare this to the 72 that made more than $50 million with an average compensation of $84 million. To put this into context, the top 72 Americans earned over $6 billion in 2009.
The lowest paid 24,000,000 Americans earned an average of $2,061. Again, this is merely to put all the data on the table. It also shows how tilted things have gotten. I wanted to see what the top 1 percent earned in total compensation for 2009 and compare this to the bottom half of wage earners:
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