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Even in Recession, Congress Pay Grew

Lawmaker Salaries Went Up While American Workers Made Less

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Even in Recession, Congress Pay Grew

U.S. Capitol Building: Home of Congress

U.S. Architect of the Capitol
Updated August 27, 2010

The recession that began in December 2007 took a bite out of American workers' paychecks over the next couple of years - perhaps a small price for those fortunate enough to hold onto their jobs during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

But if the shrinking pay didn't make them angry, this might: While workers in private industry suffered financial setbacks, Congress pay grew at taxpayer expense during the depth of the recession, an analysis of federal economic data showed.

Members of the House and Senate saw their salaries go up by more than 5 percent, or $8,800, from the time the recession began through 2009, according to the federal government.

The Congress pay figures do not include the generous perks and health benefits provided to lawmakers.

At the same time, American workers experienced just the opposite.

The per capita personal income in the Unites States shrunk by more than half a percentage point, or $254 a year, from 2007 through 2009, according to the U.S. Dept. of Commerce's Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Members of the House and Senate, meantime, earned $174,000 in 2009, up from $165,200 two years earlier.

The per capita personal income in the United States was $39,138, down from $39,392 two years earlier, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis in March of 2010.

Members of Congress made about 4.5 times the national per capita personal income in 2009, the most recent data available.

Here's a look at per capita personal income and Congress pay from 1990 through 2009.

  • 2009: Per capita, $39,138 - Congress pay, $174,000

  • 2008: Per capita, $40,166 - Congress pay, $169,300

  • 2007: Per capita, $39,392 - Congress pay, $165,200

  • 2006: Per capita, $37,698 - Congress pay, $165,200

  • 2005: Per capita, $35,424 - Congress pay, $162,100

  • 2004: Per capita, $33,881 - Congress pay, $158,100

  • 2003: Per capita, $32,271 - Congress pay, $154,700
  • 2002: Per capita, $31,462 - Congress pay, $150,000

  • 2001: Per capita, $31,145 - Congress pay, $145,100

  • 2000: Per capita, $30,318 - Congress pay, $141,300

  • 1999: Per capita, $28,333 - Congress pay, $136,700

  • 1998: Per capita, $27,258 - Congress pay, $136,700

  • 1997: Per capita, $25,654 - Congress pay, $133,600

  • 1996: Per capita, $24,442 - Congress pay, $133,600

  • 1995: Per capita, $23,262 - Congress pay, $133,600

  • 1994: Per capita, $22,297 - Congress pay, $133,600

  • 1993: Per capita, $21,385 - Congress pay, $133,600

  • 1992: Per capita, $20,799 - Congress pay, $129,500

  • 1991: Per capita, $19,818 - Congress pay, $125,100

  • 1990: Per capita, $19,354 - Congress pay, $96,600 (House) and $98,400 (Senate)

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