Average American Salary

Money’s a funny thing. We all have some but we want more. We spend it and spend it lavishly sometimes. Everything we do or have requires it. Some of us save some of it and others invest it. But most people are a little squeamish when it comes to telling others how much money, exactly, they have.

So, what is the average American salary anyway?

This is a really tough question to answer. Income is based on a fixed monthly salary for some people but some people are wage earners with fluctuating incomes. Others are entertainers with income associated with product sales. Others live off investments, which means sometimes there’s more of it and sometimes there’s not so much.

One cool place to find out all kinds of things relating to the average American salary is the US Census Bureau. They’ve got all kinds of numbers to crunch and they come up with some pretty interesting data.

They don’t have just one number, though, that represents the utmost average American salary. They pair earnings with education level and provide four numbers that each represent the average American salary.

According to 2004 data, the average American salary for persons who did not graduate from high school is $18,734. High school graduates earn an average of $27,915.

A college degree helps a lot when it comes to enjoying an average American salary. A bachelor’s degree generates about $51,206 a year, based on 2004 dollars, but an advanced degree represents an average American salary of $74,602.

That too confusing? To calculate the average of the average American salary, add all four numbers together (18,734 + 27,915 + 51,206 + 74,602). You get 172,457. Now divide that by 4 since it was four numbers we added together in the first place. You get $43,114.25.

The education differences in determining the average American salary too far off base for your interests? Consider this: in 2003, the average woman working full time all year long earned an average of $30,724. Her male counterpart earned $40,668. That means women earn only about 75.5 cents to every dollar a man makes. That gap was closing for a while but, since 2003, the gap is widening and women’s earnings are dropping.

One reason it might be so difficult to compute the average American salary is because to do so you have to know who the average American is. And in a country known as the melting pot of the world, that might be even more difficult to determine than the average American salary.

Additional Workforce and Labor Resources:

United States Department of Labor – FLSA – Fair Labor Standards Act from the U.S. Dept. of Labor

Q&A: The Fair Labor Standards Act – Easy to Understand Review of the Fair Labor Standards Act from Employment Law Handbook

Federal Wage Law: The Fair Labor Standards Act – Federal Wage Law and the FLSA from FindLaw

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 – Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) on Wikipedia

United States Department of Labor – FLSA – A history of the Fair Labor Standards Act from UpCounsel

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