“The whole world wants to know about what the hell is happening with us. So let’s talk about it. I live in Washington now, and the people I live among have no idea how people live here in the Midwest, not the faintest idea…
The last couple of years here in America have been a time of brisk prosperity according to official measurements, with unemployment down and the stock market up.
For Americans who work for a living however, nothing ever seems to improve. Wages do not grow, median household income is still well below where it was in 2007. Economists have a way of measuring this, they call it the ‘labor share of the Gross National Product’ as opposed to the share taken by stockholders. The labor share of Gross National Product’ hit its lowest point since records were started in 2011, and then it stayed there right for the next couple of years.
In the fall of 2014, with the stock market hitting an all time high, a poll showed that nearly 3/4 of the American public believed that the economy was still in recession, because for them it was.
There was time when average Americans could be counted upon to know correctly whether the country was going up or down, because in those days when America prospered, the American people prospered as well. These days things are different.
Let’s look at it in a statistical sense. If you look at it from the middle of the 1930’s (the Depression) up until the year 1980, the lower 90 percent of the population of this country, what you might call the American people, that group took home 70 percent of the growth in the country’s income. If you look at the same numbers from 1997 up until now, from the height of the great Dot Com bubble up to the present, you will find that this same group, the American people, pocketed none of this country’s income growth at all.
Our share of these great good times was zero, folks. The upper ten percent of the population, by which we mean our country’s financiers and managers and professionals, consumed the entire thing. To be a young person in America these days is to understand instinctively the downward slope that so many of us are on.”
Thomas Frank, Kansas City Missouri, 6 April 2017