I love looking at data about income and wealth and poverty levels. I feel like we're so inundated with misleading information when people start talking about "the middle class" in relation to politics and taxes.
A report was just released of Census Bureau Stats about real income before taxes-- it's good to note that this is different from the Adjusted Gross Income stats often reported when people are referring to IRS data. Since weathy people tend to take more deductions for mortgage interest, charitable giving, 401k contributions, etc., it's important to remember that their real income is much higher than their adjusted gross income-- so when politicians talk about taxes that might affect someone whose income is above $200,000, they mean someone whose real income could actually be much higher.
But here's a few stats I found most interesting:
Overall, median household income adjusted for inflation declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year, to $49,445.
That is for all households. Breaking it down a bit more:
Married couple households $58,036
Non-family, aka individual male $35,627
Non-family female $25,456
Median income of full-time, year-round workers:
15.1% of people are below the poverty threshold. Kind of an arbitrary line in the sand, as someone making a dollar more than the threshold isn't in great shape either. It's also interesting to note that about 34% of people are below 2X the poverty level. The poverty thresholds by household size are below:
|# of people in household||48 states &DC||Alaska||Hawaii|
211,492,000 Americans over the age of 15 earned money in 2010, or 67% of total population.
Interesting that it corresponds very closely to the total number of people age 15-64, presumably the ages of people you'd expect to work. But a lot more people are working past the age of 65-- about 8% of people over 65 had income in 2010.
Total popluation of US: 312,222,000
0-14 years: 20.2% (male 31,639,127/female 30,305,704)
15–64 years: 67% (male 102,665,043/female 103,129,321)
65 years and over: 12.8% (male 16,901,232/female 22,571,696) (2010 est.)
What this says to me is that almost half of all working individuals in the US couldn't support a family of 4 at more than poverty level. Two-income families have become a necessity... as has debt. The graphic below, which accompanied an article by Robert Reich, highlights this nicely:
All stats are from this Census Bureau report and Wikipedia citations of Census data.