Census Data Reveal a Grim Fact About Male U.S. Workers’ Earning Power

Photo (cc) by Alan Rampton

The average full-time working man in the United States is bringing home a skimpier paycheck than a man in a similar position 42 years ago.

It’s a depressing wage reality revealed in the Census Bureau’s annual report on income.

In 2014, the average full-time male worker earned about $50,383 a year, which is $2,900 less than a similar worker in 1973, the report said. When adjusted for inflation, a typical man with a full-time job in 1973 brought home about $53,294.

According to a report from the Brookings Institution, the U.S. economy has experienced significant growth since 1973, and both output per person and output per hours of work have increased.

So why aren’t men’s wages growing?

In the Brookings report, labor economist Larry Katz of Harvard University said the “most important factor” contributing to stagnation in men’s wages in the United States is income inequality.

The gap between the best-paid workers and the rest of the labor force has been steadily growing since 1980, Katz noted.

“Economists differ over how much of this is the result of globalization, technological change, changing social mores and government policies, but there is no longer much dispute about the fact that inequality is increasing,” the report said.

In addition, although this only plays a minor role, American workers in recent years have been receiving more compensation in the form of benefits, rather than cash wages.

Although much has been said about the lingering gender pay gap, American women have come a long way since 1973. The inflation-adjusted income of a typical female worker in the United States has increased more than 30 percent between 1973 ($30,182) and 2014 ($39,621), according to Census data.

Are you surprised that the average full-time working man in the United States is earning less than he would have in 1973? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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