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Money’s Role In Our Society | It’s A Living?

We value helping others when they are sick or physically injured — doctors of all types are well paid and logically so. However, we don’t seem to value occupations that assist the vulnerable or that prevent more people from becoming vulnerable. We tend to underestimate the degree to which one person’s life affects the lives of others; it seems short-sighted to place little value on these relationships.

Single parents and children

In the US, 10.8 million or 32% of households with their own child(ren)1 18 years of age or younger, are single-parent households. Most single-parent households (8.1 million) are headed by mom. Family type by presence of own children under 18 years of age:

Annual median wage of single-mother households. Hover over any bar to learn the percentage of single mothers living below the poverty line. Or select a radio button to sort data:

Rank by state name Rank by % below poverty line Rank by median income


One way to help children is to provide them with a good education so that the cycle of poverty does not continue. However, finding and retaining teachers might be difficult in the states colored with the darkest shades. Annual median wage for Elementary School Teachers, by state. And below, by Metropolitan Statistical Area (excludes Special Education teachers):

50 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in which Elementary School Teachers are paid the least (excludes Special Education teachers):

Elderly and differently abled

Personal Care and Home Health Aides assist the blind and elderly. Of all 819 occupations tracked by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Personal Care Aides are projected to experience the most growth, with 881,000 more workers needed by 2028. In percentage terms, Personal Care Aides and Home Health Aides rank in the top 5. Although these occupations are expected to explode in demand they are also two of the worst paying jobs with a 2018 median annual wage of around $24,000.

The top 300 occupations by projected change in employment from 2018–2028. Click the button to toggle back and forth between data expressed in percentage terms or in thousands of employees.

Mentally ill and those struggling with substance abuse

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, two of the most common situations endured by those without a permanent place to live are mental illness and substance abuse problems. Meanwhile, Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers typically need a Master’s Degree and as of 2018, the national median annual income is $44,840. Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level for Mental Health and Substance Abuse Social Workers, ranked by annual median income:

Some occupations pay well

The top 10 occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, ranked by 2018 median income, require a doctoral degree and are in the medical industry—no surprise there. The 11th occupation ranked by 2018 median income is Chief Executive which includes job titles such as:

Typical entry-level education required is a Bachelor’s degree and the 2018 median income is $189,600. Below, median income by state compared with that of Chief Executives. Hover over any bar for more information or select a radio button to sort data:

Rank by state name Rank by Chief Executive's income Rank by median income
Rank by difference between executive and state median income

So what?

Making good money is not a crime—it really isn’t­—we all want enough money to survive without constant financial stress. But how many of us truly benefit from a society in which we devalue the very occupations that lift up our most vulnerable members?

1 Own children are a subset of all children—they are the biological, step, or adopted child of the householder. Own children are also limited to children who have never been married, are under the age of 18, and are not themselves a family reference person. Foster children are not included.

⁎This wage is equal to or greater than $100.00 per hour or $208,000 per year.

†Estimate of median income for Chief Executives was not released.

Note: Annual median wage data calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics by multiplying the corresponding hourly wage by 2,080 hours.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics, (2018 median income by occupation, state, and metropolitan statistical area); Census Bureau (2013-2017 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates for family and household data).