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How Much Does the President Make? This is POTUS’ Salary

by Megan Roth5 min read
How much does the president make, really?

 How much does the president make? This is perhaps one of the questions people ask and/or wonder from time to time. It is true that the compensation for the U.S. president – as well as other appointed government posts – is quite generous when compared with the average salary. However, high elected officials would rather make more money in private sectors than solely rely on their posts’ salaries.


Take for example Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, the former vice president, and U.S. president, respectively, are both very wealthy. The latter in 1989 reportedly invested around $600,000 just to be the owner of the major league baseball team Texas Rangers. But when the team was sold sometime in 1998, Bush managed to earn at least $14.9 million from the deal. That is definitely a huge jump from his initial investment. Still, the question remains: How much does the president make? Well, without further ado, here is the detailed breakdown.


So how much does the president make?
President Trump has promised to only take $1 from his salary,  but really, how much does the president make?


How Much Does the President Make?

It is none other than $400,000 per year, and it is his official salary. He also gets additional money from various expense accounts. To fully understand how much his salary in comparison with an average American salary is, check out its conversion in estimated hourly wage.



13 Hours a Day

You might be wondering just how many hours does the U.S. president work. In an interview in 2009, then president Obama revealed that on an ordinary day, he gets to spend about 10 hours in the office ( 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM). He also adds another 3 hours or more after dinner, reading briefings, doing paperwork, and writing documents. In a sense, he consumes 13 hours or more a day.


91 Hours a Week

Another question people want to have answers to is if the president works on weekends. Of course, he does. As a leader of the free world, his time is and will always be on demand no matter what. But for the sake of comparison and mathematical simplicity, he basically works 7 days a week.


49 Hours a Week

Considering vacation days, how many weeks does the U.S. president work a year? Well, this one really depends on him. But when it comes to the record for the most vacation, it is none other than John Adams. He did not only clock in for 4 months, but he also took the rest of 1799 and went on a vacation. On an average, a president takes 96 days off or 19 days per year.


Working hard - how much does the president make?
How much does the president make for the many hours he’s investing in the office?


Hourly Wage

Now, it is time to find out how much does the president make per hour. Based on rough estimates mentioned above, it is safe to say that the president accumulates 4,459 hours per year. Considering he has a salary of $400,000, it only means that he earns $89.71 per hour. Definitely not bad, right?


Times President’s Pay Was Raised

Yes, that is right – the president’s salary has also been raised just like any other average American salary. However, in 225 years, its pay has only been raised 5 times. Three of those times were doubled, though. Interestingly, if you calculate each salary and base it on modern terms, you would be surprised that the current compensation is actually the lowest in history.

Below is the salary history of U.S. presidents:

  • 1789 – $25,000 (current equivalent – $673,451)
  • 1873 – $50,000 (current equivalent – $992,777)
  • 1909 – $75,000 (current equivalent – $1,954,850)
  • 1949 – $100,000 (current equivalent – $976,315)
  • 1969 – $200,000 (current equivalent – $1,254,610)
  • 2001 – $400,000 (current equivalent – $519,979)



Times Minimum Wage Was Raised

The minimum wage was first introduced in 1938, and since then, it has been raised for 29 times only. In other words, it has taken around 76 years for 25 cents per hour to become $7.25 per hour. It really is true that progress can move slower in the hands of the company clock. Hopefully this will change in the next years to come.


President’s Job Description

The Constitution states that the president has two roles: the chief executive of the federal government and the Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The latter gives him the authority to command and/or send troops in combat. Above all, he is the only person who has the power to either use nuclear weapons or not. As the chief executive of the federal government, it is the president’s duty to enforce the law, court rulings, and treaties, among others. He must also develop federal policies and appoint federal officials. The national budget is part of his responsibility, too. Lastly, he is the one who vetoes (i.e. approve) acts of Congress and grants pardons.


President Donald Trump and His Salary

Like it or not, Trump is the third president in history to refuse a salary. This was a promise he made during the 2016 presidential election, announcing that he would not take a salary if he wins as president. Apparently, a president – in legal terms – has to have a salary. And although it is the least of his concern, he vowed to accept at least $1 and donate the rest to the U.S. Treasury or any charity while he sits in the Oval Office. 


As mentioned above, the president earns $400,000 a year, which is basically a part of the entire country’s 1 percent. You may think it is a lot but it is nothing compared to the amount of money an elite football coach is earning at a public university. In addition to his yearly salary, the president is entitled to $100,000 for travel, $50,000 as an expense account, and $19,000 solely for entertainment purposes.


The president also has benefits, though they are not really limited to average healthcare perks. It is also true that the president travels for free, be it on a limo, Air Force One or Marine One helicopter. The same can be said for lodging, as the president and his entire family can live in the White House for free. They are even accompanied by a personal chef and other staff.