Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 27, 2005

So, what is the average wage in the United States? And what will it be five, ten or fifty years from now? Today, Political Calculations(TM) is mining historical data for the purpose of modeling the current and future level of the U.S. National Average Wage Index (NAWI) so you don't have to!

Update 26 October 2010: Welcome Bing searchers! Please be aware that the tool presented below is out-of-date - we have a much newer version available for your number crunching needs!

The data being used for the formula extraction is provided by the Social Security Administration, who tracks the data from 1951 and uses it to index an individual's lifetime earnings for the rate of inflation in wages in determining their Primary Insurance Amount (PIA), or rather, the basic level of one's Social Security retirement benefit.

The following chart shows the change in the National Average Wage Index over the number of years since 1951, as well as the formula extracted using Microsoft Excel's regression analysis capability:

U.S. National Average Wage Index Since 1951
Click the image for a larger version.

The formula indicates that the annualized rate of increase with continuous compounding in the NAWI index is 5.23%. The following tool allows you to select any year from 1951 to 2100 in order to estimate the value of average wages in the United States using the generated formula, assuming that the level of its future growth is similar to that of the past 54 years:

Input Data Values
Calendar Year

National Average Wage Index
Calculated Results Values
Wage Level ($USD)

Other Data Sources

If you're interested in what people get paid for what they do in various locations throughout the United States, some excellent resources on the web include Salary Expert and Salary.com. Both feature easy-to-use interfaces for quickly getting to basic salary information for given metropolitan areas. If you're looking for more comprehensive information, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has the most comprehensive breakdown of job statistics across the United States. But then again, what else would you expect from the mathematical statisticians who are paid $38,767 - $58,366 USD per year to compile the data!

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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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