There are two periods to focus on in this recently updated chart of the real median income of working-age American families:
- From 1979 to 2007, the real median income of working-age families in the United States rose 17.4 percent, even though the hourly wage increased by only 13.9 percent—which means that Americans were forced to work longer hours and send more members of the household out to work in order to enjoy higher annual incomes. During the same period, labor productivity increased dramatically, by 58.9—which means that most of the income gains went to a tiny minority at the top and not to working-class families.
- During the past six years, the real median income of working-age families in the United States has actually declined by 8 percent—thus erasing all of the gains workers had made from 1996 onward.
The result? American workers and their families have suffered a prolonged period of immiseration—relatively, over the course of the past three-plus decades, and now absolutely, to add injury to insult, during the Second Great Depression.