The US economy since 2000 from the perspective of working families
Since 2000, overall national output (GDP) has gone up 18%, productivity has gone up 19%, median weekly earnings of full-time workers have gone up .2%, and median income has gone down 1%. (Meanwhile, as we know, the cost of gasoline has been going up, many families have seen their home equity evaporating, and more and more of them are going deeper into debt--not to mention a pervasive increase in economic insecurity even for people who are doing OK.)
So what is everyone whining about?
=> What happened to median household income since 2000? Here's a graphic summary by Paul Krugman:
=> Of course, median income is a summary measure which doesn't tell us how that overall national income is distributed. So who has actually been getting the payoff from economic growth? Back in March, Lane Kenworthy summed up the longer-term picture this way:
The chart shows average inflation-adjusted incomes of the poorest 20%, middle 60%, and top 1% of households since the 1970s. The incomes include government transfers and subtract taxes. For the bulk of American households, incomes have increased moderately or minimally. For those at the top, by contrast, they have soared. [pdf version is available here]
The rest of the top 20% have also been doing well, of course--though the gains have been mostly concentrated in the top 10%, and ever more spectacularly as one gets to the top 5%, 1%, and .1%. But those people have been whining, too. (Just read the Wall Street Journal editorial page.)
=> A sober and serious discussion of why all this has been happening, and what should be done about it, ought to be high on the agenda of political discussion. Curiously, it's not.