Wages and Salary - Statistics & Facts

Wages and Salary - Statistics & Facts

Wages and Salary: statistics and facts

Wages and salaries are the compensation that workers and employees get in exchange for their labor. The difference between a salary and wage is that a salary is paid periodically while wages are commonly paid per unit (mostly per working hour). In the United States, salaries can only be paid in certain occupations. This is due to the fact that salary-based compensation usually does not include overtime pay and hence does not comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act which demands “that most employees in the United States be paid at least the federal minimum wage for all hours worked and overtime pay at time and one-half the regular rate of pay for all hours worked over 40 hours in a workweek”. The minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour and the only occupational categories exempt from the FLSA regulations are executive, administrative, professional, computer and external-sales positions.


Wages and salaries in the United States have increased over the last three decades. Between 1979 and 2010, the median weekly income of fulltime wage and salary workers grew from 241 to 747 U.S. dollars. These numbers are not adjusted for inflation however, as doing so yields a different result. The median weekly income in 2010 constant dollars only increased from 675 to 747 U.S. dollars in the same period. There is still a gender gap to be found in compensation levels. In 2010, the median salary for women in the United States was significantly lower than that of men, regardless of the level of education. Moreover there is also a considerable ethnic pay gap in the U.S. despite all efforts to achieve income equality.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics also compiles average wage data for large occupational groups. In 2009, the average annual salary for elementary school teachers was 53,150 U.S. dollars. Retail sales people, the largest occupational group in the United States, earned an average annual salary of 24,630 U.S. dollars. The annual mean salary for registered nurses was 66,530 U.S. dollars, which is the second highest value among the 15 largest occupational groups. Topping the list in 2009, were general and operations managers, who earned 110,550 U.S. dollars on average. The median annual household income in the United States in 2010 was 49,445 U.S. dollars, i.e. 50 percent of American households had a total income of 49,445 U.S. dollars or less.
Picture: istockphoto.com / antagain

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Released: January 2013
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