Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Scary new wage data part II

Recently we blogged David Cay Johnston's column highlighting this shocker
"The average wage in this top category increased from $91.2 million in 2008 to an astonishing $518.8 million in 2009. That’s nearly $10 million in weekly pay!"
Johnston's column prompted the U.S. Social Security Administration, which had produced the data, to revisit its figures. And:
"The inquiry established that two individuals filed multiple W-2 forms reporting $32.3 billion of pay for work, forms the agency determined after examination were phony. The revised numbers were first reported by Ryan J. Donmoyer of Bloomberg."
The SSA spokesman said he did not know if the filings were part of a scam or just a prank. The figures at the top, then, changed dramatically
"Removing those bogus reports showed that the 72 remaining high wage earners averaged $84.1 million each, down $7 million or 7.7 percent from the 2008 average in nominal dollars.
but at the bottom the picture remains just as scary
"As a result of the revisions, the data show that the average wage in 2009 dollars declined by $457 (not $243), a 1.2 percent decline from 2008. The revision shows that since 2000 the average wage, in 2009 dollars, barely changed in real terms, increasing only $347 or 0.9 percent after nine years.

The median wage – half make more, half less -- was unchanged at $26,261. The median is $37 lower than in 2000 and $253 lower than in 2008."


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