Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The 2000s are a "Lost Decade" for the US

Here is an interesting post on the Calculated Risk blog:
I've been more upbeat lately, but even as the economy recovers - and I think the recovery will continue - we need to remember a few facts.

There are currently 130.738 million payroll jobs in the U.S. (as of March 2011). There were 130.781 million payroll jobs in January 2000. So that is over eleven years with no increase in total payroll jobs.

And the median household income in constant dollars was $49,777 in 2009. That is barely above the $49,309 in 1997, and below the $51,100 in 1998. (Census data here in Excel).

Just a reminder that many Americans have been struggling for a decade or more. The aughts were a lost decade for most Americans.

And I'd like to think every U.S. policymaker wakes up every morning and reminds themselves of the following:

There are currently 7.25 million fewer payroll jobs than before the recession started in 2007, with 13.5 million Americans currently unemployed. Another 8.4 million are working part time for economic reasons, and about 4 million more workers have left the labor force. Of those unemployed, 6.1 million have been unemployed for six months or more.

So even as we start to discuss how to fix the structural budget deficit, and also to address the long term fiscal challenges from healthcare costs, we can't forget about all of these Americans.
I'm astounded that Barack Obama, who promised "change you can believe in", never saw his presidency as a mandate to "get America back to work" and as a mandate to correct the rightward tilt to the economy, the legal system, and social institutions suffered during the previous three decades. I think the history books will mark him down as a great fizzle and categorize him as a president in the ranks of Millard Fillmore and Warren G. Harding. In short, a cipher, a nothing, a guy who had a chance to lead but frittered it away with a desire for "compromise" or quiet accommodation.

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