Link The Federal Poverty Level for a family of five is $26,170 For those who view the above figures with caution. For further clarification. So, it's pretty clear that the average worker spends a lot of time at work but if he's married and has 3 kids, he just earns poverty level wages. How can that person afford to buy a house? The average car price must be close to $20k. Rent alone is probably almost half that wage for a 2-3 bedroom apartment. Not only that, this wage level hasn't been seen since 1999 so in other words, the average American worker has actually lost ground in the last 12 years. Sure, I know the routine by now. The head in the sand brigade will come along and say, "I pulled maself up by ma bootstraps, (with a free college education, heavily subsidized mortgages, lax business morality, etc, etc) they can too!" That post WWII world ain't coming back anytime soon.