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Not stagnant

Here is Harold Meyerson in the Washington Post, singing the same old false song (HT: Co-host Don Boudreaux):

…we face an economy that’s been warped by two developments we’ve not seen since FDR’s time.

The first of these is the stagnation of ordinary Americans’ incomes, a phenomenon that began back in the 1970s and that American families have offset by having both spouses work and by drawing on the rising value of their homes.

Unfortunately for Meyerson’s unrelenting pessimism, median family income (median, not mean) corrected for inflation, was up 23% between 1973 (a good year in the early 1970’s that the gloom and doomers like to call the good old days.)

Is that increase due to both spouses working? For families where both spouses work (so holding constant the number of workers in the family), the increase is 36%.

The data are from the US Census and can be found here.

These income numbers do not include employer contributions to health care or retirement unless they get converted into income. They correct for inflation using a flawed index that probably overstates inflation by 1% a year for the last ten years. They include composition effects of an increase in immigration that reduces the measured median by adding in newcomers who have fewer skills.

Incomes in America have not been stagnant since the 1970s.