Tuesday, June 03, 2008

How Rich Are You? Even Minimum Wage Workers in the U.S. Are Richer Than 87% of People in World

Check it out here at the Global Rich List. Enter your annual salary and find out how you rank (percentage ranking) among the 6 billion people on the planet, based on world salary data from the World Bank Development Research Group. Here are a few examples:

A single American living at the poverty level of $10,294 annual income (in 2006) would be in the top richest 13.25% people in the world.

An American worker earning the minimum wage of $6.55 (July 2008) would be in the top richest 12.64% people in the world.

The median income per household member of $26,036 (in 2006) would be in the top richest 9.47%.

An American making the average hourly wage of $17.88 ($35,760 in 2008) would be in the top richest 4.4% people in the world.

A U.S. high school teacher earning the average salary of $52,450 (in 2007) would be among the top richest 0.96% people in the world.

A UAW worker making the average hourly wage of $39.68 (in 2007 with overtime, holiday and vacation pay, etc.) would be in the top 0.79% richest people in the world.

Bottom Line: We might complain about declining real wages in the U.S., increasing income inequality, the "middle-class squeeze," and the "disappearing middle class," etc., but think about it: even minimum wage workers in the U.S. are richer than 87.36% of the people on the planet. As much as we might complain, just by being alive in 21st century America, even if you're lower or middle class, you've "won first prize in the lottery of life."


At 6/03/2008 11:34 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

While the obvious argument is that the "mileau" in which you have to pay your bills is relevant (hence the concept of "purchasing power parity"), I still agree with the general premise -- 98% of the people complaining these days about how much they make or how much things cost are being whiny little bitches.

At 6/03/2008 11:46 PM, Blogger Andy said...

Is this in PP$? I suspect not.

At 6/04/2008 7:36 AM, Blogger K T Cat said...

As usual, a great post. I excerpted, linked and added some analysis of my own.

At 6/04/2008 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We tend to overlook the rise in the standard of living in comparison to our parents & grandparents let alone by comparison to the rest of the world's population.

It's exciting to imagine the opportunities, and technologies our children/grandchildren will experience. This is one of the most remarkable periods in history to be alive yet so much of our preoccupations centre upon angst.

At 6/04/2008 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recently read in the Wall St. Journal that there is no standard global definition of poverty and the collection of data across the world is extremely spotty.

While I can agree that we are very well off in North America, I rather doubt that this website has complete data on the scope of this problem when even the UN does not.

At 6/04/2008 8:07 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

An interesting post. However, it loses luster because we tend to compare ourselves to more immediate peers in the present.

This would be a good line of reasoning to use to drastically lower C.E.O and athletic superstar pay in the United States.

At 6/04/2008 12:11 PM, Anonymous The Masked Millionaire said...

It seems a lot of people want to dismiss the fact that we, citizens of the USA, are better off financially then most of the people in the world.

You better believe that there are people living in third world countries all over the planet that would rather live in the United States making a minimum wage, living in a lower income area, and eating the bare essentials from supermarkets teaming with stuffed shelfs. The USA gives them hope that one day they will be able to rise above minimum wage, live in a better neighborhood, and empty more items off the shelves in the supermarket into their carts.

We are lucky. The nay sayers, America haters, and woo is me crowd can whine and complain as much as they want...we are still the luckiest people on the face of the earth.

At 6/04/2008 8:44 PM, Blogger bobble said...

well, call me a "whiny little bitch", but i dissent.

the problem is not where we are now, its where we're going.

it appears to me that the globalized leveling process going on is raising the wealth of the worlds poor folks and lowering the wealth of the american middle class to somewhere south of where it is now.

i have no solution for this. i'm happy that the worlds poor will be better off. but, i think we should be honest and admit that the american middle class is the 'loser' in globalization.

At 6/04/2008 11:08 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> Recently read in the Wall St. Journal that there is no standard global definition of poverty and the collection of data across the world is extremely spotty.

No, but when you hear what one of the most common ones is, you'll easily grasp why it is "insoluble":

A common measure used is to define "poverty" as making less than 50% of the median income of that nation.

A little thinking about that notion, and you start to grasp what Heinlein was talking about:

...the American people [have] started losing the hard common sense that had won them a continent. By the sixties everyone talked about his 'rights' and
no one spoke of his duties -- and patriotism was a subject for jokes.
... I recall one candidate's promise that I heard during the presidential campaign of 1976, a campaign promise that seems to me to illustrate how far American rationality had skidded:
. 'We shall drive ever forward along this line until all our citizens have above-average incomes!'
Nobody laughed.

- Robert A. Heinlein, 'To Sail Beyond the Sunset' -

At 6/04/2008 11:09 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> well, call me a "whiny little bitch"

Okay, bobbie. You're a whiny little bitch.

We didn't need you to tell us that. We'd already noticed.

At 6/09/2008 9:09 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> it appears to me that the globalized leveling process going on is raising the wealth of the worlds poor folks and lowering the wealth of the american middle class to somewhere south of where it is now.

BTW, for anyone reading this at a later date, bobbie's concern is evidently incorrect, as shown indirectly by a later blog entry:


Or, to avoid the "middleman":

Make sure only the USA is clicked and hit "play"

It's clear that the middle class is not shrinking by any means. There is a rising poor class (all the classes are rising, in fact, but "the poor" is notably increasing), but that may well tie to increasing illegal immigration. That cannot be excluded unless someone researches the numbers used to see if they do so. I suspect that the numbers will include illegal aliens.

At 6/16/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Right on the money

At 6/24/2008 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You must be kidding.

As if a number as simple as raw income can imply, much less dictate, your vast, sweeping conclusions.

Inflation, taxes, complete ignorance (or conscious omitting) of studies of indigenous peoples who have lived just fine off the land for dozens of millennia (like the native Hawaiians, who now wish, justifiably, to kick the U.S. out), and a plethora of other reasons make this clear.

There is no need to list them all, as the horse is already quite beaten to death. Raw comparison of wealth is your measure of happiness? The notion is absurdly simplistic on its face. If Americans are so bloody well off, why is our rate of depression and suicide so high? Why do many native cultures not even have a word for suicide? How much of the poor worldwide are poor because corporations have enslaved them at even lower pay than in the U.S.?

To me, your post is simply an extension of the illusory capitalist notion that hard work for pay is the ideal situation for humans. It is not. Work and slavery only came into existence after agriculture and civilization, a topic waaay too lengthy to address here, but I suggest reading Gerry Mander and John Zerzan, for starters.

I'm not advocating that we return to pre-civilization. I don't have to. We will be delivered there, by thinking such as yours, and the hellishly short-sighted ideals that spawned it.

I suspect you'll simply dis this comment, or ignore it. I have run into legions of similar-minded people. We humans are supremely arrogant that we have somehow discovered the right way to live, when we are so clearly killing our environment after 200,000 years or so of living within our planetary means. Your shallow thinking is but one, albeit minor, manifestation of that arrogance.

Sorry to be a bummer, but sometimes I have to try and shovel a few scoops of crap out of the tide--


At 12/05/2008 10:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I have always made it a point to count my blessings in comparison to others who have it worse. It's gotten me through many a bad time and increased my joys in good times.

But, this is a rather simplistic comparison. The cost of living here is much different. Also, please do not forget, Marie Antionette and her infamous "let them eat cake" statement. There are a very few people, holding the vast majority of wealth in this country.

Like it or not, right or wrong, histroy has proven again and again, it creates great dissention and upheaval, when one small segement of a society owns the vast majority of the wealth.

This is the kind of article that let's the super rich sleep at night. Anything to justify keeping their hands on all the money.

I would really like to know the salary of each and every person that thinks this is such a great article? Any of you struggling to live on $30,000 a year for a family of three?

Especially ObloodyHell who thinks 98% of the people complaining these days are whiny little bitches. Seriously, how much does your household earn per year? I'd really like to know.

At 6/21/2009 4:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While we are rich by global standards, we are poor by local standards. Also, don't forget that DEBT is not wealth, it's a drain on income. Also income/wealth does not necessarily equal happiness or health. Look at all the fat asses in america. Lazy or too much food? or just too stupid to walk? or just nowhere to walk to? America is broken and it will unfortunately fail as a capitalist model. Health care costs will bankrupt this nation as well as the exponentially increasing debt that can never be repaid. Add to that idiot politicians who think the solution to their budget problem is raising taxes while the country is in a tailspin on the way down, and you got a failing empire that will hit sub zero sooner than you think. America is finished and should let somebody else take over. The experiment failed.


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