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Americans' income drop last decade makes U.S. a world rarity

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(Bloomberg Business) — The U.S. capped the first decade of this century with an unfortunate distinction: the only developed economy to slip backwards on the share of its people living on more than $50 a day.

This share of Americans dropped to 56 percent in 2011 from 58 percent 2001, according to the Pew Research Center’s report comparing the daily per capita income of 111 countries between 2001 and 2011. Median income per day dropped to $56.44 from $58.56. 

In the vast majority of the world, as living standards improved, the share of people living on more than $50 a day rose along too. Even Greece saw its share more than double to 23 percent in 2011 (although this improvement will almost certainly be less impressive if the data stretched out to more recent years, given the continued contractions in Greece’s economy).

The retreat in the U.S.’s share puts the world’s largest economy in the same league as Iran, the pariah state with whom it’s trying to broker a nuclear deal,  and a handful of other countries: Nicaragua, the Philippines, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Bulgaria and Serbia. 

So what happened?

The report says: “The lack of movement up the income ladder in the U.S. is the result of two recessions over the period of 2001 to 2011 —the first in 2001 and the second from 2007 to 2009. The median annual household income in the U.S. fell from $53,646 in 2001 to $50,054 in 2011.”