Today we get our first look at American wages in 2010 based on payroll taxes reported to the Social Security Administration. David Cay Johnston picks out the most important takeaways, including:
1) Half of all workers made less than $26,364, the median wage in 2010. That means the typical wage is at its lowest level since 1999, after adjusting for inflation.
2) The number of millionaires increased by about 20 percent.
3) The size of the missing workforce is 10 million. The number of working people fell by 5.2 million since 2007. But that's not the entire job deficit, because, based on population growth estimates, 4.5 million more would have joined the workforce between 2007 and 2011. Add it up, and you get a 10-million-worker gap.
What you see in the graph above is that median pay took a nosedive after 2007, effectively wiping out all gains made in the previous eight years. The macro explanation is that the economy shrunk, and middle class jobs disappeared and were replaced with (or outlasted by) lower-paying positions that companies kept on.