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U.S. Median Annual Wage Falls To $26,364 As Pessimism Reaches 10-Year High [CORRECTION]

The Huffington Post   First Posted: 10/20/2011 2:30 pm Updated: 01/23/2012 8:48 am

Us Incomes

Americans' wages are falling, perhaps a reason why pessimism about their personal finances is now the lowest it's been in a decade.

The annual median wage fell in 2010 for the second year in a row to $26,364, a 1.2 percent drop from 2009, and the lowest level since 1999, according to David Cay Johnston at Reuters.

(A correction has been upended to this post).

Meanwhile, U.S. households are growing increasingly concerned about their finances with more than 20 percent of adult Americans rating their financial situation as "poor," a Gallup poll finds. That's a larger share than the 16 to 19 percent of Americans who viewed their finances as poor during and after the recession. It's also the highest percentage since 2001, the first year of the survey, according to Gallup.

In some ways, the financial crisis has taken more of a toll on the employed during the recovery. Indeed, Americans' incomes have fallen more during the recovery than they did during the recession. Incomes dropped 6.7 percent during the recovery between June 2009 and June 2011, compared to a 3.2 percent drop during the recession from December 2007 to June 2009, a study from former Census Bureau officials found.

And it will take some time to get incomes back to where they were before the recession. The U.S. median income has declined 7 percent in the last 10 years and while economists expect incomes to rise over the next decade, it likely won't be enough to return to pre-recession income levels, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Not everyone is suffering, however. The number of workers making $1 million or more actually rose to nearly 94,000 last year from 78,000 in 2009, according to Reuters.

Still, most employed workers don't expect much in the near future. Nine out of 10 American workers say they don't expect to get a salary increase in the next year that will be enough to compensate for rising food and fuel prices, a June American Pulse survey found. Meanwhile, Gallup's Basic Necessities Index -- a measure of Americans' access to food, shelter and health care -- fell earlier this month to lows on par with recession levels.

Corporations may finally be feeling the pain of a sluggish recovery too, MSNBC reports. As CEOs continue to report their company earnings for the last quarter, their outlooks for the future will likely include belt-tightening measures, according to MSNBC.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post misstated that the U.S. median income fell to $26,364. The U.S. annual median wage fell to $26,364.
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