Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Today's News

The main headline on today's Concord Monitor:
So the numbers of deaths per month in Iraq have gone down enough so that they are now below Afghanistan. But the Monitor couldn't possibly give you that good news.

On NPR, a lead commenter (Something Bernstein from the Economic Policy Something Something) tells us that the median wage between 2000 and 2007 hasn't changed much. But those aren't the same people - they never are. How many people have started in the work force since then, including young people, legal and illegal immigrants, and folks coming off welfare? Would you say they tended to come in near the bottom of income or near the top? How many people have retired in those years? Would you say they have gone out more toward the bottom of income or more toward the top? Not to mention the increased value of benefits (your health care costs more because THEY CAN DO MORE NOW), the increase in home equity (about 70%), and the increase in retirement funds.

I hate these &%&#@ people.


Ben Wyman said...

Yeah, but in terms of wages, isn't that the way things always are? Sure, people are retiring, and people are entering the workforce, but at the same time, the people in the workforce are getting promoted, getting raises, and moving to higher paying jobs. Nothing's ever at a standstill. So if the median wage is the same, that should mean that jobs, in general, are paying the same as what they were seven years ago. The problem is that things don't cost the same.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I believe all the background data I'm speaking from is adjusted for inflation. I certainly hope so, because if it isn't it isn't worth a tinker's dam.

There is considerable justice to your main point. Holding level for years while generations cycle through may not be a bad thing, but it certainly isn't exciting. My objection to the NPR comment was that the impression created is that for regular folks like you and me, there was no improvement. I felt obliged to bring up several hidden factors that showed we are actually richer, even though looking at wages alone doesn't show that.

I forgot to mention that there are also more of us in the workforce because of population increase. An economy that supports more people at the same wealth is an improved economy in some way. Again, not exciting improvement, but it's not nothing.

Anonymous said...

A median wage that hasn't changed much as a demographic bulge of Boomer Echo young people surge out of high schools and colleges in record numbers is quite a demonstration of the vigor of the US economy's Productive Sector. Add in the ever-growing number of America's retirees as you did, AVI, and the fact that this country's median wage isn't crashing is even more amazing.

As demographer Ben Wattenberg says in the title of one of his books, the good news is the bad news is wrong.