November 13, 2019

"Wage Stagnation" Is a Myth

“Perhaps the most common indictment of America’s legendary prosperity is wage stagnation. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that average hourly earnings of production and nonsupervisory employees peaked in October 1972 at $23.26 (in 2019 dollars) and were at that same level in March 2019. But do these numbers remotely describe the life you have lived over the past 45 years, or square in any way with numerous official measures of changes in what Americans actually own and consume? In short, should you believe your eyes or government data?

Compared with 1972, American homes today are much more spacious and modern. The proportion of homes today that have two or more rooms per person is up 33.5%. The share of homes with two or more bathrooms has more than doubled; central air-conditioning is more than three times as common; and the share of homes that have dishwashers is up by more than two-thirds. Most homes in 1972 had televisions, but only about half were color sets. Today they are all color and most are flat screens in high definition, attached to cable or satellites. The average home in 1972 had at least one phone, but none had cellphones or internet access.

Kitchens today are stocked with a far wider array of foods, including out-of-season fruits brought from half a world away and a vast variety of prepared foods. Compared with 1972, this abundance costs an ever smaller portion of families’ budgets, freeing up some $3,200 on average to spend on other things.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"When Mark Twain observed that rumors of his death had been “greatly exaggerated,” he left out the fact that those words would become true eventually, as they did in 1910 when the great American author died. Similarly, given the huge resources..."

"No one is going to confuse President Trump’s remarks Tuesday at the Economic Club of New York with anything approaching eloquence. He is at his worst when he stiffly reads the teleprompter or flies widely off script with gratuitous remarks about..."

"Everything we think we know about the shape of the universe could be wrong. Instead of being flat like a bedsheet, our universe may be curved, like a massive, inflated balloon, according to a new study. That’s the upshot of a new paper published..."

"Being lonely hurts — it can even negatively impact your health. But the mere act of being alone with oneself doesn’t have to be bad, and experts say it can even benefit your social relationships, improve your creativity and confidence, and help..."

"Sen. Elizabeth Warren is campaigning for a 2% surtax on anyone’s net worth over $50 million and 6% on more than $1 billion. Most discussion of the wealth tax has focused on whether it could generate sufficient revenue to fund Ms. Warren’s..."

"TV depression looks fabulous. I’d love to have that kind of depression. And it’s not just TV depression; any mental illness on-screen looks rather thrilling. Either it’s dark and dramatic — unlike day-to-day depression, which is at best super..."

"Hebrew remained, to Oz, Zionism’s greatest achievement. Certainly, it was the one he was least ambivalent about. “I have said many times that I’m a chauvinist only in respect of the language,” he told the Paris Review. “I feel for the language..."

"Talk about missed connections. Earlier this week, hundreds of people received seemingly random text messages, out of context and out of the blue, addressed from friends, family, and loved ones. The first part of the mystery was solved pretty..."