Incomes Down; Poverty Up



The inflation-adjusted income of the median household was unchanged in 2004, remaining $1,700, or 3.8%, below its most recent peak in 1999, according to today’s release by the U.S. Bureau of the Census. The 2004 level of median income-$44,389-was slightly below 2003’s level, but the change was not statistically significant.

The main factor explaining this significant, ongoing decline in household income appears to be ongoing weakness in the job market, especially regarding real annual earnings, which fell significantly for both men (-2.3%) and women (-1.0%).

The real income of the typical household has fallen five years in a row, despite the fact that the last three of the those years, 2002, 2003, and 2004, have been years of economic expansion.

The number and share of persons in poverty also increased last year, from 12.5% to 12.7%, the fourth consecutive increase since poverty bottomed out at 11.3% in 2000, the end of the last expansion. Since that year, 5.4 million more persons, including 1.4 million children have been added to the poverty rolls.

The key factor behind the deterioration of real household income and poverty is the prolonged labor market slump that began in 2001. Although the job market expanded consistently in 2004-today’s release shows that addition of 1.5 million workers in 2004 over 2003-this addition was not faster than the growth of households and not enough to absorb the labor market slack left over from the longest jobless recovery on record.

The unbalanced nature of the economic recovery is also documented in today’s release. While the share of total national income flowing to the bottom 60% of household was essentially unchanged, the share going to the top 5% was up 0.4 percentage points, from 21.4% to 21.8%. As of 2004, the top fifth of household held 50.1% of all income, tied with 2001 for the highest share on record. Similarly, while the average real income of middle-income households fell $300-from $44,759 to $44,455-that of households in the top 5% grew by over $4,000, from $260,045 to $264,387.

JARED BERNSTEIN is a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and Lawrence Mishel is president of the Economic Policy Institute.


November 30, 2015
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Embrace of Totalitarianism is America’s Dirty Little Secret
Omur Sahin Keyif
An Assassination in Turkey: the Killing of Tahir Elci
Robert Fisk
70,000 Kalashnikovs: Cameron’s “Moderate” Rebels
Jamie Davidson
Distortion, Revisionism & the Liberal Media
Norman Pollack
Israel and ISIS: Needed, a Thorough Accounting
Robert Hunziker
The Looming Transnational Battlefield
Ahmed Gaya
Breaking the Climate Mold: Fighting for the Planet and Justice
Matt Peppe
Alan Gross’s Improbable Tales on 60 Minutes
Colin Todhunter
India – Procession of the Dead: Shopping Malls and Shit
Roger Annis
Canada’s New Climate-Denying National Government
Binoy Kampmark
Straining the Republic: France’s State of Emergency
Jack Rasmus
Japan’s 5th Recession in 7 Years
Charles R. Larson
Twofers for Carly Fiorina
John Dear
An Eye for an Eye Makes the Whole World Blind
Weekend Edition
November 27-29, 2015
Andrew Levine
The Real Trouble With Bernie
Gary Leupp
Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought
John Whitbeck
Who’s Afraid of ISIS?
Michael Brenner
Europe’s Crisis: Terror, Refugees and Impotence
Ramzy Baroud
Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake
Pepe Escobar
Will Chess, Not Battleship, Be the Game of the Future in Eurasia?
Vijay Prashad
Showdown on the Syrian Border
Dave Lindorff
Gen. John Campbell, Commander in Afghanistan and Serial Liar
Colin Todhunter
Class, War and David Cameron
Jean Bricmont
The Ideology of Humanitarian Imperialism
Dan Glazebrook
Deadliest Terror in the World: the West’s Latest Gift to Africa
Mark Hand
Escape From New York: the Emancipation of Activist Cecily McMillan
Karl Grossman
Our Solar Bonanza!
Mats Svensson
Madness in Hebron: Hashem Had No Enemies, Yet Hashem Was Hated
Walter Brasch
Terrorism on American Soil
Louisa Willcox
Grizzly Bears, Dreaming and the Frontier of Wonder
Michael Welton
Yahweh is Not Exactly Politically Correct
Joseph Natoli
A Politics of Stupid and How to Leave It Behind
John Cox
You Should Fear Racism and Xenophobia, Not Syrian Refugees or Muslims
Barrie Gilbert
Sacrificing the Grizzlies of Katmai Park: the Plan to Turn Brooks Camp Into a Theme
Rev. William Alberts
The Church of “Something Else” in “an Ecclesiastical Desert”
Andrew Gavin Marshall
Bank Crimes Pay
Elliot Murphy
Cameron’s Syrian Strategy
Thomas S. Harrington
Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe and the Death of Ezra Schwartz
Gareth Porter
How Terror in Paris Calls for Revising US Syria Policy
Michael Perino
The Arc of Instability
Yves Engler
Justin Trudeau and Canada’s Mining Industry
Tom H. Hastings
ISIS and Changing the Game
Lars Jørgensen
Vive la Résistance
John Halle
A Yale Education as a Tool of Power and Privilege
Norman Pollack
Syrian “Civil War”?: No, A Proxy War of Global Confrontation