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Calling on Job Creators: The Real Numbers Behind American Employment

by B, published

Here are some facts about Main Street American Jobs and Earnings:

In April 2014, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released an Occupational Employment and Wage Summary. According to the BLS, 20 percent of Americans work in just 10 occupations. Two of them, retail salespersons and cashiers, together represent over 33 percent of this number, or 7.8 million American workers.

These occupations are:

Retail salespersons: 4.48 million workers earning $25,370 Cashiers: 3.34 million workers earning $20,420 Food prep & serving staff: 3.02 million workers earning $18,880 General office clerk: 2.83 million working earning $29,990 Registered nurses: 2.66 million workers earning $68,910 Waiters & waitresses: 2.40 million workers earning $20,880 Customer service representatives: 2.39 million workers earning $33,370 Laborers, & freight and material movers: 2.28 million workers earning $26,690 Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical): 2.16 million workers earning $34,000 Janitors and cleaners (not maids): 2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

According to the Social Security Administration, in 2012, the median wage of American workers was $27,519.10 per year. In 2012, Social Security also reported that 59 percent of all American workers earned less than $35,000 per year.

To clarify, half of all American workers earn less than $28,000 per year and 18 percent of those who earn above that earn less than $35,000 per year. The top two most prevalent occupations in the United States, retail sales and cashiers, on average, earn less than $25,370 per year. Simple math tells us that $28,000 a year is $13.44 an hour, at 173.5 hours per month of full-time employment.

According to National Public Radio, there are 1.3 million less American jobs than there were in December 2007, when the recession began. American construction jobs have dropped by 1.6 million and American manufacturing jobs have dropped by 1.7 million.


According to the Economic Policy Institute:

… From 1978 to 2012, CEO compensation measured with options realized increased about 875 percent, a rise more than double stock market growth… …the average CEO compensation was $14.1 million in 2012.

Think about this: In 2012, CEOs earned over $1 million a month.

Are businesses profiting?

According to the Wall Street Journal:

Big U.S. companies have emerged from the deepest recession since World War II more productive, more profitable, flush with cash.   At McDonald’s, international revenue rose 24% since 2009, three times as fast as in the U.S. At Starbucks, international revenue jumped 35% the past two years, more than double the 14% increase in the U.S.


The Bureau of Labor Statistics places American unemployment at around 7 percent. However, if it was still measured by their broadest unemployment measure, including short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers, as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment, this number is closer to 12 percent.

However, John Williams from measures American unemployment at closer to 23 percent. While 23 percent appears extremely high, it has some support from a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics April 25 press release, stating in pertinent part:

To state this another way: 20 percent -- 1 in 5 -- of family households are completely out of work. So compared to the Bureau of Labor Statistics household unemployment numbers, John Williams is only off by 3 percent.

This 1 in 5 number is almost the same number of Americans living in poverty.


After the recession, the United States lost over 1 million construction and manufacturing jobs. In terms of total jobs, the United States has 1.3 million fewer jobs today than it did prior to 2007. Now, half of all American workers earn an average of $13.44 an hour or less, while 20 percent of all American households cannot find work.

Yet, CEOs are paid an average of over $1 million a month and big businesses are flush with cash.

If CEOs and Big Business were actually interested in creating livable wage careers in the United States, they have the money to do it and it would’ve happened. Further, American workers wouldn’t be earning so little in dead-end jobs.

The next time someone tries to convince you that CEOs and Big Business are job creators, you can highlight the fact that the majority of the top 10 jobs in the United States are low-paying, dead-end, service industry jobs that are not valid careers.

Photo Credit: Joe Raedle / Getty Images

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