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the middle wages

New statistics are out for 2012 that show the median American worker earns about $27,500 in net compensation as reported on W-2 forms. I assume this is the middle person of working age who, in fact, works. That is, this is the middle person of our roughly 153 million workers and not the median wage of all Americans of working age.

So, as best I understand it, these figures do not include people whose work is not construed as work. Those who aren't counted would include stay-at-home spouses; graduate students with teaching and research assistantships; everyone who lives off income from social security, stock dividends, or bank interest; and so on.

An interesting statistic is that 40 percent of all workers earn less than $20,000, and you don't have to live in New York City or pay a student loan or heating bill to know that living on less than twenty grand a year, before taxes and other deductions, is challenging. When adjusted for inflation, the median worker's income is down $4 from 2011 and at its lowest since 1998.

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