What have you always wondered about the economy? Tell us
By The Numbers

Who is the ‘middle class’ anyway?

Caitlin Esch Jul 24, 2013

This week, President Obama is traveling around the country to talk about some “bold ideas” to help the middle class. But who  is in the “middle class?”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2012 median hourly wage was $16.71. Loggers, truck drivers, jewelers, animal breeders, dental assistants, tax preparers and travel agents all make about that much.

Sewer pipe cleaners make a little less at $16.36 an hour. So do medical transcriptionists. Would you rather repair septic tanks or translate medical jargon?

Secretaries make a little more than the median at $16.99. And reporters come in at $17.25.

Managers, chief executives, family doctors, lawyers and judges all make some of the highest hourly earnings, of course. But information research scientists ($49.13) software developers ($47.59), mathematicians ($48.73), aerospace engineers ($49.87), physicists ($51.37), political scientists (49.04) pharmacists ($56.09) and prosthodontists ($81.31) do pretty well too.

Some of the lowest earners make $9.44 or less: cooks, waitresses, bartenders, dishwashers, maids and cashiers. Also low on the wage ladder: animal care workers ($9.60), gaming dealers ($8.96), manicurists ($9.24) and childcare workers ($9.38).

Then there are the median-wage jobs that most of us have never even heard of: roustabouts ($16.41), fallers ($16.95) and glaziers ($18.08).

News and information you need, from a source you trust.

In a world where it’s easier to find disinformation than real information, trustworthy journalism is critical to our democracy and our everyday lives. And you rely on Marketplace to be that objective, credible source, each and every day.

This vital work isn’t possible without you. Marketplace is sustained by our community of Investors—listeners, readers, and donors like you who believe that a free press is essential – and worth supporting.

Stand up for independent news—become a Marketplace Investor today with a donation in any amount.