Income Figures: Not Good

The post election debate about the economy - recently couched as the Rubinites against the EPI-ites - rumbles on. But the figures behind it look no rosier than they did before November. An article in yesterday's Times showed latest figures for average incomes still below when the President took office. (Note these are mean, not median figures. This makes the figures less impressive, given that rises at the top of the income scale should drag the average up.)

Reported income totaled $7.044 trillion in 2004, the latest year for which data is available, down from more than $7.143 trillion in 2000, new Internal Revenue Service data shows. Total reported income, in 2004 dollars, fell 1.4 percent, but because the population grew during that period average real incomes declined more than twice as much, falling $1,641, or 3 percent, to $53,974. Since 2004, the Census Department has found, the income of the typical American household has grown along with the rise in average incomes but at a slow pace that, until recent months, had barely kept ahead of inflation.