Last week, you might have read about the stagnation of wages. If you didn’t, here’s Felix Salmon:
There’s no good news in today’s data from the Census bureau. Unless you’re the kind of person who worries about inflation, that is: in that case you’re probably reassured that real median household income fell 3.6% between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303. That’s a drop of over $1,800: real money.
David Leonhardt puts this in a broader context:
The typical American household made less money last year than the typical household made a full decade ago.
To me, that’s the big news from the Census Bureau’s annual report on income, poverty and health insurance, which was released this morning. Median household fell to $50,303 last year, from $52,163 in 2007. In 1998, median income was $51,295. All these numbers are adjusted for inflation.
In the four decades that the Census Bureau has been tracking household income, there has never before been a full decade in which median income failed to rise. (The previous record was seven years, ending in 1985.) Other Census data suggest that it also never happened between the late 1940s and the late 1960s. So it doesn’t seem to have happened since at least the 1930s.
Yet, during the stimulus debate, there were conservatives panicking about the possibility of inflation, even as wages were stagnating (and this ignores that many people were also facing reduced incomes). Of course, anyone paying to silly things like household income knew this was absurd. So why aren’t we worried about deflation? Because deflation would only help those with fixed payout assets like bonds and preferred stock.
Oh, never mind, it’s all clear now….