“Average income” can be misleading when the midpoint looks like a liveable wage, but the stretch between the lowest and highest salaries is growing.
An interactive graphic shows how income spreads have grown. In 1960, income levels in particular sectors tended to cluster; today, levels are spread across a wider pay spectrum, particularly for higher skill jobs.
The exceptions: the legal sector, where income distribution has always been wide; and low-skilled work like food preparation, care services, and cleaning and maintenance, which are at the lowest end of the earning spectrum.
Low-skilled work is also the source of most of the US’s job growth.