If you’ve been thinking that you’re probably not getting paid what you’re worth, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute might make you feel validated…or even more frustrated. According to the report, 70% of the US workforce’s inflation-adjusted wages are lower than they were in 2007, with declines in wages at every pay level except the bottom 10% from mid-2013 to mid-2014.
Perhaps the number that will stick out most to middle-class earners (those between the 20th and 80th percentiles) is $18,000. This is the amount of additional annual income the middle-class would have seen in 2007 if wage inequality hadn’t risen between 1979 and 2007. That means the average middle-class household in 2007 should have brought in more than $94,000 instead of the $76,451 it did.
Missing out on almost $20,000 they deserve is enough to make most people seethe, but it actually gets worse once the disparity in the increase of income at various levels is factored in. The average increase between 1979 and 2007 of 53.4% seems like a promising sign until a closer look shows how disproportionate the numbers are. Incomes in the bottom fifth increased by less than 30%, and those in the middle fifth fared even worse with an increase of less than 20%. Even those in the 80-90% range only saw an increase of 39%.