US median household income trap: Four decades of data and households struggling to keep up with inflation. Younger Americans face bigger income struggles.
Household income growth in the US has largely been absent for well over a decade if we adjust for inflation. This is important because people truly care about what their money can purchase. What use is it getting a $1 raise if healthcare went up $2? What use is it that you are earning $1,000 more a year when sending your kids to college now costs $5,000 a year more? It is unfortunate so little attention is given to income growth when the available data is readily available. Part of the lack of coverage probably stems from the reality that the mainstream press is largely an advertising vehicle. Do not hold your breath for deep analysis and reporting from the press. Telling people how their inflation adjusted incomes are back to 1990s levels isn’t going to encourage people to go out and buy that new car, fancy tech gadget, or go into heavy debt for that new home. Let us dive deep into the income data.
Sequestering the working and middle class – The implications of runaway debt. GDP at record levels yet nonfarm employment is 4 million below previous peak. Trillion dollar coins. Greece unemployment reaches a new record.
Gear up those printing presses. You might be thinking that some of the policy talk coming out today is from The Onion but no, the idea of a $1 trillion coin is being discussed. The Federal Reserve is already very willing to become a shadow bad bank and take on all the questionable assets from the latest bubble from member banks. As the middle class is crushed, our nation is becoming more polarized. You have a massively large group of people that are now classified as poor in the world’s wealthiest nation. We have over 47 million Americans on food stamps. The average per capita pay is $26,000 much to the surprise of many people conditioned on only getting their data from the mainstream press. Those that deny inflation are not looking hard enough. The purchasing power for working and middle class Americans is being slowly destroyed. Europe is still facing major headwinds with Greece reaching a troubling new record with their unemployment rate. All this rhetoric means the Fed and ECB will continue on their path of quantitative easing and digital money printing.
Inflation by any other name – Central banks around the world increase balance sheets from $2 trillion in 2008 to $6 trillion in 2013. The slow erosion of purchasing power in the US.
The Federal Reserve has been trying with all its power to stoke inflation. This is not the stated mission and you will not hear this proclaimed over loud speakers but if actions speak louder than words, this is the policy they are following. Yet the Fed is picking winners and losers with their inflation targeting. The reason the CPI for example is not reflecting major changes is the massive wealth destruction that has occurred in the debt markets, particularly with mortgages. In a system like our own, debt is money and there has been an enormous amount of debt that has been destroyed. Yet the Fed has aided the banking system by forcing rates lower and thus keeping asset prices higher for the mistakes taken on during the bubble years. This provides little support for working and middle class Americans. For example, this hurts fixed income savers including our rapidly aging older population. Also, even a modest amount of inflation is destructive should incomes remain stagnant.
American Gerontocracy: Since 2009 2.7 million jobs for those 16 to 55 have been lost yet 4 million jobs were added for those between 55 and 69.
It is still a tough time to be young and looking for work in the United States. With the steady destruction of blue collar industries with living wages, many have to pursue a college degree for any chance at becoming middle class. Yet higher education has become a debt plagued mess where students have to enter selective schools or pick in demand degrees to have any fighting chance in the economy. The rest go into deep debt for what is now worthless paper. Yet it is understandable for young Americans to take this risk given the weak prospects in the market for those without a college education. The recent jobs reports are more proof of the great divide that is happening in our nation based on age. Since 2009, the economy has lost about 2.7 million jobs for those between the ages of 16 to 55. However, the offset has come from adding 4 million jobs in the age range of 55 to 69. Welcome to the American Gerontocracy.
There may be a temporary jubilee with the notion that the fiscal cliff has been deferred for a few months. The media is quick to accept anything for a victory but very little has been done to stop our marching path onward on this massive debt spiral. Many Americans continue to live in poverty with no visible exit. The latest figures show over 47 million Americans on food assistance. Many Americans as they enter their golden years are coming to fully rely on Social Security, a system that was on the table for being cut in the recent debates. Since the Fed is creating asset bubbles and destroying fixed income investments, many older Americans are realizing that retirement is no longer a viable option given the rising costs in food, healthcare, and once again housing. I see this on a monthly basis where you can spot older Americans in non-traditional and many times, temporary employment roles. None of this intervention is ending up in household income. In fact, when we examine real wealth the net worth of American’s is down to the lowest levels since 1969 when adjusting for inflation.
How much do Americans earn? What is the average US income and other income figures. Fiscal cliff talks only useful in context of incomes.
With talk of the fiscal cliff taking up most of the headlines it is probably useful to look at income figures for Americans. The media rarely discusses income because it is a touchy subject. It probably would not be savvy in a marketing sense to tell viewers that their incomes have been stuck in the financial mud for well over a decade. Household incomes in the US have been stagnant for well over a decade. Real income growth has largely occurred in the top 10 percent of US households. This is why we are seeing the middle class shrink in our nation. Over 47 million Americans now rely on food stamps. It would be useful if all this talk about the fiscal cliff actually examined the nuts and bolts of US household income.
The three legged fiscal cliff: US middle and working class already facing their own fiscal cliff – 2 million Americans will lose unemployment insurance by January 1 and the debt ceiling limit being hit on December 31.
To most of America the fiscal cliff is some sort of fiscal enigma. Most realize that we are spending more than we are bringing in and also that taxes are part of our system. What most have a harder time understanding is the machine of the Fed and how it selects winners and losers at will by digitally bailing out an entire banking industry. Yet here we are counting down the days to a new year and we are no closer to solving this fiscal problem. Congress is full of millionaires and come what may with the negotiations, they will remain this way. This fiscal cliff is largely a reflection of our three legged fiscal problems; a shrinking middle class with a growing population in poverty, a ritualistic process of hiking up debt ceilings, and the taxes versus spending equation.