Our statement today on the new income data

Rob Shapiro and I released the following statement today:  

The Census Bureau's disappointing report on U.S. income released yesterday reinforces the pressing national need for a new economic strategy that makes globalization work for all Americans.

The sobering fact that the median income of American families is still $1,000 less than when George Bush took office demonstrates the failures of the current Republican economic strategy, which has consisted largely of tax cuts for the privileged and has never provided what the American people need in a more competitive global economy.

Moreover, a New York Times editorial today notes that real improvements to Americans' economic situation may remain elusive in the medium-term:  "Sputtering under the weight of the credit crisis and the associated drop in the housing market, the economic expansion that started in 2001 looks like it might enter history books with the dubious distinction of being the only sustained expansion on record in which the incomes of typical American households never reached the peak of the previous cycle. It seems that ordinary working families are going to have to wait - at the very minimum - until the next cycle to make up the losses they suffered in this one. There’s no guarantee they will."

The new economic data - median incomes still trailing 1999 levels; a fall in real median earnings of full time workers for the third consecutive year; more Americans with no health insurance; and little change in the poverty rate - make clear that more must be done to help  the many Americans struggling harder to get ahead. 

In a recent paper for NDN, we offered the following three-part recommendation for a new economic strategy for America:

  • Modernize our health care and energy policies - Reduce pressures on workers' wages and jobs through reforms that reduce the rate of increase in employers' and workers' medical insurance costs, and lessen upward pressures on energy prices and U.S. dependence on foreign energy.
  • Invest in people - Enact a comprehensive new strategy to better ensure that every worker and child in the 21st century has real opportunities to succeed; focus significant new investment on giving all Americans the skills and knowledge needed to operate productively in an idea-based economy; initiate a new national commitment to offer all Americans training in information technologies and affordable access to the evolving global communications network itself.
  • Foster and accelerate innovation - Support the development and spread of technological and business innovations throughout the economy by promoting the formation of new businesses, increasing support for basic research and development, upgrading our infrastructure, and aggressively protecting American intellectual property rights in foreign markets.

To read the new report, please visit the Census Bureau's website.