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What Americans Earn

With all the talk about what to do with the Bush tax cuts — and whether they should be extended for no one, everyone, or everyone under a certain income cutoff — we thought it made sense to check in on how much Americans actually make.

Roughly $50,000. That's how much the median households makes in income and benefits per year. In other words, half of American households made less than $50,000 and half made more.

A household, as the Census defines it, consists of all the people who occupy one house or apartment. That means anyone living under the same roof and includes families, but also roommates sharing an apartment or people living on their own. The Census counted 114.6 million households in 2010, the most recent year for which it has published data.

The Census Bureau has some useful data on that subject. Here's a breakdown of how many households made different amounts in 2010:

Some takeaways: Almost one household out of every four (24.9 percent) makes less than $25,000 a year. About one in three households (30.1 percent) made between $50,000 and $100,000. One in five households (19.9 percent) made more than $100,000 a year.

The income part of the data excludes dividends, capital gains and income from real estate, like rent payments. The benefits part includes food stamps or subsidized housing. Many of these government subsidies are targeted at poorer households.

"Government transfers account for a much larger fraction of the total income for those on the bottom of the income distribution," said economics professor James X. Sullivan of Notre Dame University. For some, like the elderly on the lower end of the income distribution, government-provided social security can be their sole source of income.

Here are a map and a sortable table showing how your state compares to others:

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Lam Thuy Vo

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