Rhode Island’s median wage, $17.94, is the fourth highest median wage in New England and higher than the national median wage of $16.69.
The median wage is the wage at which half of earners earn more and half earn less. Wages and salaries account for more than three quarters of income for the middle class.1
Over the past three decades (1979-2013), wages at the bottom of the wage scale have been essentially stagnant, while those at the top rose. During this time period, the median wage grew by 16 percent. Wages at the bottom of the wage scale (10th decile) declined by by 4 percent while wages at the top (90th decile) grew by 49 percent during this time period.
The gap between higher (80th decile) and lower wages (20th decile) grew 70 percent since the late 1970s, or $8.60 an hour when adjusted for inflation.
1 The Economic Policy Institute. The State of Working America, 12th Edition. Cornell University.