Skip to main content

New Wage Data Paint Stark Reality for Workers

Jeremy Sprinkle
Social share icons

1 in 34 earned nothing in 2009

Latest payroll tax data reveal something really scary. David Cary Johnston at reports on the troubling new statistics released earlier this month by the Social Security Administration:

Every 34th wage earner in America in 2008 went all of 2009 without earning a single dollar, new data from the Social Security Administration show. Total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined, but at the very top, salaries grew more than fivefold.

These workers who had jobs before Wall Street almost imploded our global economy in 2008 literally lost everything. For an entire year, they earned nothing. Nada. Zero. Zilch.

To give this some perspective, from 1992 to 2000 the number of people earning any wages grew by 21 million, but nine years later just 2.8 million more people had any work.

But it's not all bad news. Well, it's mostly bad news, but some folks are doing better than ever. There are fewer Americans earning $50 million or more - 74 last year compared to 131 in 2008, but that's not the whole story:

The average wage in this top category increased from $91.2 million in 2008 to an astonishing $518.8 million in 2009. That’s nearly $10 million in weekly pay!

You read that right. In the Great Recession year of 2009 (officially just the first half of the year), the average pay of the very highest-income Americans was more than five times their average wages and bonuses in 2008. [...] These 74 people made as much as the 19 million lowest-paid people in America, who constitute one in every eight workers.