Posts Tagged ‘Income Stagnation’

The American middle class is still struggling

March 9, 2015

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Americans historically have thought of ourselves as a middle class nation, a nation in which the majority of people were neither poor nor rich.  That is becoming less true.

The median level of income—that is, the dividing line between the top and bottom 50 percent of income earners—has been falling for 15 years.  This is not a good thing.

At the same time the middle tier of income earners is shrinking.  The middle tier are those who earn more than two-thirds of the median income and less than double the median income.  This is not a good thing.

I think the causes of this trend are the de-industrialization of the U.S. economy, the financialization of the U.S. economy and the upward redistribution of income to a small elite of financiers and corporate executives.

LINK

The American Middle Class Hasn’t Gotten a Raise in Fifteen Years by Ben Casselman for FiveThirtyEight.

 

The only places where Americans are doing well

December 22, 2013
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Double click to enlarge.

Is drilling for shale oil the only way Americans can make a good living from honest labor?

I hope not.

Click on How oil made North Dakota rich by Amy Harder for National Journal for more and the source of this map.

“I’m working harder and falling behind”

February 6, 2013

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For the past decade, the incomes of average Americans have been flat while the productivity of the American economy continued to increase, and the United States continued to produce more goods and services per person.

Millions of Americans, including anybody who follows this web log, know this all too well.  But according to Time magazine, the news is starting to reach inside the Washington beltway.  Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor gave a major speech on this subject to the American Enterprise Institute.  His answers—school choice, federal help to parents in paying for school, family-friendly work policies, tax simplification and so on—touched only on the fringes of the problem.

The challenge to the Obama administration is whether they can come up with something better.

Changes in Median Real Family Income vs Price Changes

Michael Scherer of Time magazine, like so many in Washington, thinks impersonal economic trends are the problem.

Part of the shift can be attributed to increased income inequality owing to globalization and new technology — the wealthy becoming much wealthier, while the rest stayed the same. Part of it can be attributed to increased corporate profits, as new markets opened overseas and new technology lowered costs. Some of it has to do with how the figures are calculated. But the most important political takeaway of the chart is that at the turn of a new century, much of the U.S. stopped feeling the benefits of a growing national economy.

If the problem is the inexorable force of globalization and automation, which make the work of ordinary Americans objectively worth less and the worth of the elite objectively worth more, there is not much to be done.  But the question is: worth less to whom?   I acknowledge that the world’s richest 0.01 percent do not think they have any need for people like me.  Then again, I don’t see that people on my level need them.

But maybe the problem is that the corporate and governmental system is rigged to benefit people at the top at the expense of people at the bottom.   To the extent that this is the true explanation, the way forward is clear.   It is to un-rig the system.

Click on The Most Important Chart in American Politics for Scherer’s article in Time on the political implications of stagnant family incomes in the midst of rising productivity and output (GDP) per person.

Click on A Lost Decade in American Politics for background on productivity, GDP and family incomes by Jake Berliner of NDN, an economic research organization..

Click on Eric Cantor’s ‘Make Life Work’ Speech for the full text of his speech Tuesday.

Nonfarm Payrolls (Jobs) Decade Gains

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