Incomes Have Fallen Farther During ‘Recovery’ Than During Actual Recession

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Americans’ actual household incomes have fallen more than twice as far during the post-recession “recovery” of the past four years than they fell during the recession itself.

That’s the conclusion of Maryland-based Sentier Research, a data-analysis company led by former Census Bureau officials. Analyzing the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, Sentier estimated that Americans’ median household annual income has cumulatively fallen by an inflation-adjusted 4.4 percent during the recovery period from June 2009 to June 2013. During the recession period, median income fell by 1.8 percent.

In real money, that means an American household is now, on average, bringing in about $2,400 per year less today than when the economic recovery started.

Released Wednesday, the report finds that annual median household income, which stands at $52,098, reached a low point in August of 2011. The current number remains 6.1 percent beneath where it stood in December of 2007 and 7.2 percent beneath inflation-adjusted median income in January of 2000.

To no one’s surprise, it’s the middle class that’s felt the biggest squeeze. As Michael A. Fletcher noted last week in The Washington Post:

Median income, which economists view as a key marker for the well-being of the middle class, is lagging across education levels and racial groups, the report said. Analysts said the report also reflects the increasing economic polarization apparent in other data.

… So far in the current recovery, median incomes are defying efforts by Americans to improve their workforce skills, according to the report, compiled by analyzing data from the Census Bureau’s monthly Current Population Survey. Income is down even though the number of households headed by people who report having a college degree is up sharply since the end of the recession, according to the report.

Importantly, these income tallies include government payouts such as unemployment compensation and cash welfare, an indicator that “[President Barack] Obama’s method of funneling ever-more money and power to Washington, and then selectively divvying some of it back out, clearly isn’t working for the typical American family,” as the Weekly Standard observed. It clearly isn’t working for black households either, which have cumulatively experienced a 10.9 percent drop in their median annual incomes since Obama’s “recovery” began.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.