During the depths of the recession in 2009, as millions of Americans lost their jobs, homes and life savings, the highest-paid earners in the United States saw their average incomes increase more than five-fold from 2008, according to new data from the federal government.

The 74 people who earned more than $50 million last year -- the highest income category measured by the Social Security Administration -- saw their average incomes skyrocket from $91.8 million in 2008 to a mind-boggling $518.8 million in 2009.

These 74 people earned an average of $10 million -- per week. Meanwhile, half of all American wage-earners, or about 75 million people, earned less than $505 per week.

$10 Million Per Week Vs. $505 Per Week

Even though the absolute number of earners in the over-$50 million income category decreased from 131 to 74 in 2009, the combined wages of that group increased by an astonishing $26.5 billion, from $11.9 billion in 2008 to $38.4 billion in 2009.

These 74 people earned a combined $38.4 billion last year, or as much as the 19 million lowest-paid American workers, combined. In 2009, the average income earned by all Americans fell by $384 to $39,269 and the median income fell by $253 to $26,261.

These figures were revealed by the Social Security Administration on October 15th, and were first reported by David Cay Johnston, a Pulitzer Prize-winning former reporter for The New York Times, who now writes for Tax.com, the website of Tax Analysts, a nonprofit tax analysis group based in Falls Church, Virginia.

The names of the top 74 earners were not disclosed, but they were "most likely Wall Street traders who earned bonuses or corporate executives cashing in deferred compensation that accumulated over the years, or even highly paid athletes," Bloomberg said, citing Johnston.

In an email, Johnston told DailyFinance that the top 74 earners also does not include most hedge fund managers because much of their "investment" income is not counted as wages.

An "Orgy of Money Exhibitionism"

"This systematic destruction of the working class and middle class has come during an era notable for celebrating the super-rich just for being super-rich," Johnston wrote. "From the Forbes 400 launch in 1982 and Robin Leach's Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous in 1984 to the faux reality of the multiplying Real Housewives shows, money voyeurism has grown in tandem with stagnant to falling incomes for the vast majority. There has also been huge income growth at the top and the economic children of income inequality: budget deficits and malign neglect of our commonwealth."

"This orgy of money exhibitionism has created a society in which commas - it takes three to be a billionaire - count more than character," Johnston continued. "We have gone so far down this path that we bailed out bankers, allowing them to keep the untaxed wealth in their deferral accounts and, with a few exceptions, retaining shareholder value, while wiping out investors in General Motors and Chrysler as a condition of their bailouts. And while autoworkers had to take severe pay cuts, bonus time on Wall Street is at new record levels."

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RevWarHeroPFrancisco

LMAO the PARTY OF FAILURE FAILS AGAIN. With Obamunism there is no Trickle down instead there is Perk Up POVERTY. DEMOCRACY = SLAVERY = TYRANNY end the Lawyers' Monopoly in DC Join us: www.RepublicOfTheUnitedStates.org

October 27 2010 at 10:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rich

To teabag is not a right granted by the constitution,the teabaggers must be stoped before it is to late.

October 26 2010 at 11:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
normfields

Well,I guess that shows the rich CAN pay their fair share of taxes,and STILL get richer!

October 26 2010 at 11:34 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
davmusgro

Say what you want the facts are in . Im just as guilty The last 4 years of democatic or should i say liberal control have done more for the rich than any time before .With your tax dollars we bailed out the richest of the rich people were getting billions in pay raises and bonus checks at the ok of this administration. we are spending money on programs that 4 generations from now will be praying to have anything including a home or a job . we took hundreds of billions from social security ( does that sound like our democratic party?) We spent 1 trillion dollars last year on ilegals and the cost looks like much more when they give them social security too 1 trillion dollars and rising for the cost of the so called health bill The rest rest of the free world is now bragging that theirs is better ( another step back)

October 26 2010 at 11:11 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
howwil

And the GOP wants to make the Bush tax break permanent for the top 2% of earners. And what is more amazing, there are a lot of ordinary Americans who have bought the GOP bait about Obama's "socialism" and will go along with the GOP plan.

October 26 2010 at 10:48 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
jagcapt007

No jagcapt007, that just means you screwed someone else. ============ The greatest gifts of deadbeats are their absolute hatred for those successful persons that gained wealth via their own labor. Their only contribution towards life is a dinner plate and appetite. I have created both wealth and jobs internationally. The reason I support more international businesses is purely better class workers, and business environments. That formulary always leads to stronger profits eventually. Parasitic workers are not only a curse to businesses, they are usually a curse to their parents also. Obama and the DNC created the most vicious anti-business atmosphere in our history, and America absolutely deserves what it voted for. A million dollar investment in America today gets you 1.2 jobs. That same investment in Costa Rica this year got you 187 jobs, in china 97 jobs. Costa Rica has exploded with growth potential. I have expanded twice, and still can't keep up with demand. America demanded I downsize twice, and use that hugh saving towards other more profitable investments. The sad truth is I could triple my investments leaving America, but my employees, are like my family, thus I remain. This is 100% Obama and DNC policies. I am clueless what to expect in America, I know precisely what to expect elsewhere for ten years. I am a proud American, however my servitude ends with my family, and business employees. I can NOT support American communities, activist, or politicians; Their corruptions are legendary. What precisely have you contributed Mike?

October 26 2010 at 9:47 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to jagcapt007's comment
jagcapt007

paulezy like most left socialist, insist they are entitled to others profits, because they work for salary. They absolutely insist they need risk or invest nothing, but their salaried time qualifies, as a profit taker. I always retort under the equal protection clause that insanity insist I must have access to your wife and daughters every weekend, as my share of the profits that I support via your salary.

October 26 2010 at 9:33 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jagcapt007's comment
blocku

jag if I wanted a daily dose of stupid I would read the Faux forums. Ill eat my hat is you are as successfull as you pretend to be.

October 27 2010 at 4:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
theseventhlegend

Freakin ridiculous. Thanks Obama for bailing out Wall Street and proving to be just another back pocket chum to your Fat Cat buddies while the real hard working Americas get poorer, struggle and don't even have jobs.

October 26 2010 at 9:15 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to theseventhlegend's comment
kawieboy

Isn't this the land of opportunity?

October 26 2010 at 8:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
3 replies to kawieboy's comment
Bob my love 24/7

This is the highest form of prostitution and robbery! I believe people should earn money that take risk in their businesses but these money ******, have taken the money from the government bailouts and allotted themselves outrageous benefits. Only to keep preying on the American workers. So many people have lost homes,stocks and families because these have turned there backs on America. However, they are most likely not Americans and have learned how to take over our country by taking over our financial systems, politics and businesses. I think people who make outlandish sums of money off the backs of Americans should have to invest at least 50% back into the job force. I know I am dreaming but I can at least still speak my mind! Well at least for now.

October 26 2010 at 7:56 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Bob my love 24/7's comment
kawieboy

Guess what? They DO have to give 50% back...it's called income tax. Timeclockers always have a hard time understanding just how much rich folks have to pay in taxes!

October 26 2010 at 8:51 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply