One in six married parents made 200k/yr or more in 2018

As ever, fresh from the ACS 2018 1-year estimates.

One in eight make 150-199k per year.

So for 2018, over a quarter of married parents of minor children had household incomes of 150k or higher.

The group for $100-149,999 per year, ticked up to 24% of all married parents from 23% in 2017.

In short, 51% of married parents made 100k a year or more as a household in 2018.

The 50-99k pool of married parents is still about 1/3, but just barely at 32% in 2018.  It’s evenly split between households making 50-74k and those making 75-99k.

The downward trend continues for married parents with household income of 49k per year or lower.  Only about 1/6 of all married parents fall into this range.  And yes, you’ll note it’s about the same as the total pool of 200k+ households.

Eight years ago in 2010, the breakdown was very different, even though the number of married parent couples was about the same (a bit under 23m instead of a bit more than 22m)

200k- 7% nationally

150-199k- 7.5% nationally

100-149k- 20% nationally

50k-99k- 37.5% nationally

49k or lower-28% nationally

For 2018 67% or 2/3 of all married parents had household incomes of 75k per year or higher.   

We’re in for a rocky ride for 2019 and 2020.  We’ll likely see 70% of married parents above 75k in 2019’s numbers and then the year after that a drop (but not a very big one, married parents weren’t the ones bodyslammed by job losses from the economy stoppages related to Wuhan coronavirus), but the family median will plunge, as solo parent families took it on the chin very hard.  Trends continue until they don’t and black swans are notable for their recurrence and their rarity.

We really are under a Labor vs. Capital divide.

The problem is that a big chunk of it is college-educated knowledge workers having their wages driven downwards and not understanding that they have class interests.  Instead, many of them buy into titles-over-pay and are happy to receive lower pay over time adjusted for inflation so long as they earn just a bit more than non-college workers.  And it is “just a bit” after you’ve bothered to adjust for the costs of the education ratchet and the fact that increasingly these knowledge workers are talking themselves into 2-3 degrees before getting that first job.

It doesn’t have to be this way, they could demand to be paid in money rather than ego-boost of making a few pennies more than those despised not-college types who probably don’t even have decent politics.  But it would mean they’d been bad at being smart and were instead talked into, er, voting against their own interests.

This is, by the way, misleadingly represented on the fringe socialist left as “professional managerial class” or “pmc”.

The political middle vs. the true middle, married class edition

Just a quick note for something I hope to visualize eventually.  The political middle refers to where the media articles about families and money/income/tax matters tend to put generic examples of married parents.  It’s not the median (101k/yr), or the average (130k/yr) or even the middle 50% of married parents (as of 2018, 60k-165k for the 25th through 75th percentiles).

It’s typically a low number of 50-60k/yr.  Sometimes it’s higher, but generally a number along those lines is presented as the dead midpoint even if numbers like the above, closer to true middle numbers are thrown into a profile of 4-6 “middle class families”.

How many Zuckerbergs does it take to pay for Medicare for All?

One = 80 billion dollars.

The New York Times recently presented five estimates for Medicare for All.  They average out to 3.3 trillion dollars per year to fund Medicare for All.

So, how many s would it take?

The answer is 41 full Zucks and one quarter-Zuck.

That’s how many s you need every single year.

We don’t got ’em.


Why very low income and very high income SAHMs often treat frugality as a very part-time job

With the very low income, they have to because there’s no room for error and low enough on the income tree, it’s a real financial loss plus massive stressor to have two workers maxing out at 43k or so.

For the very high income (in W2 income terms anyhow), it’s related.  If your husband makes 400k, you get the same benefit spending 10 hours a week or even month finding an extra 25k in the budget as you would working a 50k/yr job because you only end up with a little more and you have to work 40 hours a week to get it.  You have to crack six figures yourself before the extra money is harder to find via frugality than just working a job for it.

This isn’t to say that frugality is pointless unless you only make under 40k or over 400k, but that at the extreme ends of wage income (as reflected in both extremes having the highest rates of SAHMs), it’s mostly going to be easier to conserve cash rather than earn marginally more cash.

The math is different closer to the median married income, which is partly why the median is rising.  The reason is that people who are willing to marry when both incomes are likely to be about even set up their finances differently and as a result losing one income doesn’t create the space to segue into conserving the remaining one.

Of course, another reason the median married income is rising is that if you weren’t taught household management and homemaking skills, which is a very large number of marriageable women these days, it is terrifying to figure out how to get along on a low income and marrying a higher earning man sounds like it will be safer/easier.

From a quarter to a third: married women’s income share increase over 50 years.

As alluded to in a previous post, married families had a median income of about 80k in 2019 dollars.  Married women contributed about 25% to that median or about 20k.

Fifty years later married families have a median income of about 90k in 2019 dollars, or about a 10% increase.  Married women now contribute about 36% to that median or about 33k.

1970: Median husband made 60k, median wife made 20k.

2020: Median husband makes 57k, median wife makes 33k.

Quick notes on the value of a village and the value of a housewife.

The value of the village, of real community support where you can easily have someone come over is 100k per year.

The articles from years and years back about how a housewife’s labor is worth 250k a year missed the real implication, which is that the *husband* would need to make that much to cover all the value-adds this platonic-ideal housewife was providing.    But then, that is dangerously close to the actual situation with SAHMing in many married households.

Related to something else, instead of the poor choices of long commutes or telecommutopia or “no really if we keep spending billions on light rail everyone will take it to their green jobs”, we could have satellite offices for many desk-type jobs and make the 400k vice presidents actually earn that money making the rounds weekly or monthly to touch base.  It “splits the difference” with commuting by slashing it in many industries but also keeps local money more local because a lot of the “oh they’ll just buy everything with amazon” is from being exhausted from hours of driving. Cut that by 75% and you can have real stores and get better quality even without major price increase, since there’s been a race to the bottom with shipping costs and delivery of consumer goods.

Ultimately tens of millions of people are being shoved around by the whims of a few hundred thousand, and that is changeable.  Extremely so.


“A deer won’t fix it”: A few words against struggle love and romanticizing low income life.

Ripped from someone’s childhood:

It was getting towards the end of class time in Algebra I and Susanna, who’d read Little House on the Prairie to pieces, was talking to another student about how much she loved country music and how cool it was to hunt for your food even if you were poor and such.

The teacher, unusually for the free time at the end of class, cut in.  “You haven’t been poor, it’s not ‘cool’.”

“But couldn’t pa just, like, hunt deer for you all?”

“You have no idea what it’s like to really be poor. A deer won’t fix it!” The teacher didn’t have to go on.  Susanna never mentioned country music or deer hunting ever again.

The teacher was a wise woman.  A deer won’t fix the leaky roof, or serve as a winter coat.  A deer won’t fix the blisters when your shoes are worn bare and there aren’t going to be any more because your older brother ran away and you almost feel bad that your first thought was hoping he’d left his Sunday pair behind, because they weren’t too worn and only a little big on you.  A deer won’t fix it.

In one of those interesting confluences that transcends race, both the wider black community and the wider right-wing community have a tendency to romanticize poverty and “struggle love”.  That the kids coming out of many of those unions aren’t so enamored about the idea of being married and incredibly poor is waved away as them being too spoiled, somehow.

The discussion here is a good example of right-wing folks romanticizing the struggle and presenting extended periods of poverty as unalloyed good.

They were discussing, dismissively (but somewhat justifiably), this person’s wicker basket of issues around “emotional labor” that strictly speaking she doesn’t have to do and mostly isn’t labor.

Yet the problem with the emotional labor complainer lady isn’t gender, or even money.  A lot of the time, the obstacles to normal life aren’t financial, but from the vantage of those with no financial resources anyway, it can seem like “proof” that money doesn’t fix anything, so why worry about whether you have any?

A deer won’t fix the toothache.  Or the gap between your kid’s college scholarship and your empty pockets.

Poverty isn’t inherently unworthy, but there’s a difference between preparing a child for the possibility and spinning up a tale that it always works out and will in fact basically be “broke-college-student” level temporary.   It’s an ideal of struggle-life where you’re not actually lacking the roof, or the full belly, or the warm coat, or the well-fitting decent shoes.  You just have low income but all basic needs completely met.  This is pretty bitter aloes for anyone who jumps into low-income marriage on purpose without any prep and finds out it’s not very romantic or easy and that married poverty without a strong local community or regionally suitable skills to “make do” can be devastating and corrode a marriage bond to a brittle snapping point.

A deer won’t fix it.  Only frankness and realistic discussion about the tools needed to “survive and thrive” as a low income household with children could.   Not romanticism and rosy glosses on what some couple did decades or generations ago.  That leads to people seeing marriages blow up over the poverty or how bad it is for the family and mistakenly thinking that the solution is more dakka money.  But we could all make less money as married households if the sheer value of close relationships and getting along with other people were taken seriously society-wide.