NDN Releases New Paper Documenting Wage, Salary Growth in US Until Last Decade

NDN is proud to release a new paper from Dr. Rob Shapiro, Chair of NDN's Globalization Initiative.  Titled, "Wage and Salary Growth in the United States: Average Americans Made Steady Progress for Two Generations, Until the Last Decade," the paper begins: 

"Americans are dissatisfied with their economy’s recent performance, and understandably so.  By most measures, unemployment remains high, growth is slow, and most households have seen their wages and incomes fall in recent years.  These developments also have ignited a partisan debate over what policies are responsible.  Many conservatives point to high taxes, outsized deficits and extensive regulation, which they attribute to President Obama.  For many liberals, the true causes lie in how financial and other markets operate within the new global economic environment, and in the government’s failure to invest more in education and training, basic research and infrastructure, which they pin on Republican presidents and Congresses.

This debate goes beyond questions of which party or president to blame for today’s stalled incomes and unemployment.  It involves identifying the very nature of the current economic distress.  We focus here on the basic earnings of Americans, because no other measure captures more directly people’s real economic conditions.  We analyze the wage and salary gains Americans have experienced over time, tracing the earnings of age cohorts as they age, focusing on what has happened to people’s earnings during the expansions of the last 30 years.

The record is clear:  Average Americans achieved steadily rising earnings through the economic expansions of 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. In the Reagan expansion of 1983-1989, for example, the median earnings of Americans born in the early 1950s and those born a decade later increased an average of 3.2 percent per-year, as they aged.  Similarly, in the Clinton expansion of 1992-2000, the earnings of working Americans born in 1950, 1960, and 1970 grew an average of 3.8 percent per-year, as they aged through the expansion.  This pattern ended, however, with the expansion of 2002-2007, when the earnings of those born in 1950, 1960 and 1970 and working in those years increased on average by just 0.5 percent per-year.  The financial meltdown of 2008-2009 and the deep recession and slow recovery which have followed did not create this problem but rather, as would be expected, exacerbated the new pattern." 

To read the rest of Dr. Shapiro's paper, please click on the link below.