Last year, only 51% of personal income was derived from working salaries, the lowest since 1929, according to an analysis by USA Today. The problem stems from the lingering effects of the recession and the high number of unemployed. Wages declined even more during the beginning of 2011, slipping to another historic low of 50.5% in February for personal income. The newspaper also found Americans in 2010 relied more on government assistance than at any other time in the nation's history. A record 18.3% of total personal income was a payment from the government last year for Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, unemployment benefits and other programs. To demonstrate just how high the rate is, government aid averaged about 12.5% annually from 1980 to 2000.
A recent report by the University of Buffalo School of Social Work says single workers in the U.S. need more than $30,000 a year for economic security. Single-parents with two children need nearly twice the income ($57,756) to cover basic expenses and save for emergencies and retirement, while dual-income households with two children require $67,920. The 2010 national poverty level is $10,830 for a single-person family and $18,310 for a family of three.