Friday, June 10, 2016

View from the Top (Wages, That is)

How would a wage of $78,500 strike you? Probably as a really good wage, but not an absolutely spectacular one. Now, how would you like to make that much every three months for a total annual wage of $314,000? Welcome to the world of the top 1 percent.

There were roughly 1.8 million workers in Oregon during the third quarter (July-September) of 2015. The top 1 percent comprised 18,168 individuals. The median, or middle, wage for this group was $78,499 for the three-month period, equal to $24,166 per month. The lowest wage in the group was $57,002 for the quarter, equal to $19,000 per month. If you made only $57,001 that quarter, you were in the bottom 99 percent of wage earners. Sorry.

The distribution of wages for the top 1 percent of wage earners is similar in shape to the distribution for all wage earners. The curve is relatively flat for most of its length, showing that most workers earn wages that are relatively close to the median wage. Nearly 80 percent of the workers in the top 1 percent had earnings within a range of the median plus or minus 50 percent. The curve becomes very steep at the right end, showing that only a small number of people at the top earn wages far above the median wage of $78,499 per quarter. In other words, even within the top 1 percent, there is significant inequality in wages.

For more on occupations and industries, read: View from the Top.

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