In 2022, the median annual earnings for workers in the United States was $46,367, down nearly 7% from 2021 when adjusting for inflation. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and as reported in USAFacts’ America in Facts 2023 — workers in Mississippi, Arkansas, and West Virginia earned annual median wages lower than $38,000, the lowest in the country.
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How do wage changes compare to the poverty rate?
Despite the year over year wage reduction, fewer Americans are living in poverty. As of 2022, 11.5% of Americans — roughly 38 million people — are impoverished, 3.6 percentage points lower than 2010. Wisconsin had the lowest poverty rate in 2022 at 6.6%.
The poverty rate is a reflection of a family’s total income. Wage earnings are a primary factor, but the Census also considers other income sources when assessing whether a family is living in poverty, such as Social Security benefits, unemployment compensation, and child support payments.
How do wage reduction and inflation intersect?
Inflation increased last year, so real wages and purchasing power declined. A July 2023 Census Bureau survey found that over one-third of Americans find it difficult to pay for their usual household expenses. This sentiment is especially prevalent among younger Americans, who tend to be more affected by inflation than other people in age groups.