Are average wages fair?

Are average wages fair?

There are a lot of numbers readily available for people who are interested in average wages locally, statewide, and nationwide. We’ll run through those numbers and discuss why they might not show the whole picture.

National average wages

The national average or all occupations is $29.76/hour. That translates to about $61,900/year. We’ve already discussed what constitutes fair wages—and what a living wage actually is. 

The national average wage is considered a living wage—but only if the person making that money is 1) one of two workings adult living in a household or 2) the working adult in a two-adult household without children.

Ohio’s average wages

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reports that the Ohio average of “All Occupations” is $27.18/hour. That comes out to about $56,530 annually.

They also break down average wages by category. Among the lowest paid industries are recreational professions; hosts and hostesses for restaurants, lounges, and coffee shops; short order cooks; childcare workers; and fast food and counter workers, all of whom receive $10 – $11 per hour for their labor. Assuming full-time work for these positions, the lowest paid workers are bringing in about $22,900 per year.

Cincinnati’s average wages

In the Cincinnati metro area, the average wage is $28.23/hour, “5 percent below the nationwide average of $29.76….” 

Most major occupational groups in the Cincinnati area are paid below the national average, ranging from the Legal group at 15 percent below average to the Production group and Healthcare support groups at one percent below average. Of course, some groups, such as Construction and extraction, as well as Installation, maintenance, and repair are right at the national average. And some groups are above the national average, too: Transportation and material moving is three percent higher, while Education instruction and library is two percent higher, as examples. 

Averages can be misleading

When you look at those numbers, the situation might not seem dire. But, averages can “easily obscure the reality of the situation.” They don’t consider outliers, which can skew the data. 

So, let’s look at the median, too. While the average, sometimes referred to as a “mean,” is calculated by adding up all the numbers in a data set and then dividing by the number of entries in the set, a median is the midpoint of a data set. It’s also important to drill down to see where inequities lie. For example, “The median weekly earnings for men in 2022 was $1,154 or $60,008 per year. The weekly median earnings for women was $958 or $49,816 per year.”

Beyond looking at averages, medians or any other number that waters down a complex picture into a single number, it’s important to recognize that “[n]early half of Americans do not make a living wage.” 

Similar Posts