Friday, April 17, 2015

The story of our lifetime

American wages peaked in 1972.  
Adjusted for inflation, average weekly earnings for production and nonsupervisory employees–the bulk of the workforce–topped out in October 1972, according to the Labor Department. In today’s dollar, that weekly paycheck was the equivalent of about $811, compared with just under $703 a week last month.
I was born in 1974.  Older people's perspectives might be different but my entire life, growing up, being educated, coming to terms with how the world works, has all taken place within the context of long steady decay.  For as long as I have been conscious of the world around me, the theme has been, "Things used to be getting better but now they are getting worse." 

Nobody my age or younger has any tangible reason to expect differently.  That worries me. Especially since my generation is getting to be the olds now. If this is everyone's perspective, it makes for a pessimistic, defeatist politics.  And by that I mean a cynical politics where even the guys selling the "Hope"  and "Change" actually are not selling those things at all and everyone knows it. Which, of course, is what we have. How do we pull out of such a cycle?


Nolaresident said...

Especially since my generation is getting to be the olds now.

Really Jeffery? You really feel old at 41? What are you going to do with your next decade and the one after that?

Ian said...

I was born in 1980 and I have the same thought all the time.

Robert McClendon said...

I agree. Middle and low income wage stagnation is the story of our lifetime. I used to feel bad that I'm proving to be the first McClendon in three generations not to do better than his dad. Bad choices aside (Journalism? WTF?) I feel like some of that is beyond my control. My father and grandfather came of age during a period of unprecedented economic expansion, much of which accrued to the poor and middle class. I, on the other hand, was born in the era of exploding wealth for the 1 percent.

Nolaresident said...

I would add that one thing from the article that bothered me was the graph on the number of hours worked. That wasn't good.