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Killing the Middle Class

chicago dyke's picture

I'm no economist, so that's probably why I have never understood why people continue to use terms like "recovery" and "expansion" while talking about the last six years. So far as I can tell, the only place one can find growth in the American economy is at the very highest income levels, and to corporations benefitting from reckless spending programs related to the war or oil. Seems I'm not wholly wrong:

ccording to the National Bureau of Economic Analysis, this expansion started in November 2001 when according to the Bureau of Labor Statistic the average hourly pay of non-supervisory workers was $14.70. This figure was $16.62 in May of 2006 for an increase of 13.06%. Over the same period, the inflation gage according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics increased from 177.4 to 202.5, or an increase of 14.15%. Therefore, wages for non-supervisory employees have decreased a little over 1% since this expansion began.

However, the unemployment rate dropped below 5% in December 2005, signaling "full employment". Has the decrease in labor supply increased wages? No. In December 2005 the average hourly wage of non-supervisory employees was $16.35. In May that number was $16.62 for an increase of 1.65%. Over the same period, the overall inflation measure increased from 196.8 to 202.5 or an increase of 2.89%. Therefore, since the economy hit "full employment" wages have decreased 1.25%.

The first evidence came in the 2001 recession, when job losses relative to the actual decline in economic growth were six times greater than in previous postwar recessions. Five years into the current expansion, job creation is still running at half the rate of the preceding recovery. Despite this historic slowdown in job creation, the official U.S. unemployment rate remains low - but only because the number of working age people looking for jobs has also declined, even as the economy has grown.

Despite Bush's continual touting of recent job numbers, this expansion's job creation rate is the lowest of any recovery in the last 40 years.

In a fair election, there's no way intelligent Democrats can lose in the fall, were they to play this up and offer a few sensible alternatives. No one wants to believe that their kid's college degree will guarantee only burger-flipper benefits.

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