Home > The Economy > Will USA living standards ever again be as high as they were in the last century?

Will USA living standards ever again be as high as they were in the last century?

from Edward Fullbrook

Median household income in the USA is now 8.4 per cent less than it was at the close of the 20th century.

Source: Sentier Research analysis of Labor Department data. Note that vertical axis does not start at zero to better show the change.

Source: Sentier Research analysis of Labor Department data.
More info and graphs are available in a  report from Sentier Research.

  1. Vladimir Masch
    June 10, 2013 at 5:30 pm

    Dear Edward:

    I have published two papers in December and March.

    They go much further than hetero. Abstracts are attached – can you use them?

    Best regards,

    Vladimir Masch


  2. BC
    June 10, 2013 at 8:55 pm

    The situation is much worse for the bottom 80% of US households, who receive 40% of US income and have just 7% of US financial wealth, most in the form of real property equity in a primary residence, which in actual fact is the lender’s asset in terms of first lien claims.

    Therefore, in this sense, the bottom 80% of US households effectively have virtually no investable capital wealth, and they never will.

    With US wealth and income so highly concentrated to the top 0.1-1% to 10-20% of US households, and wage and salary labor being heavily taxed (14% per worker), including incremental effective taxation from Obamacare, and having to compete increasingly against accelerating automation (even now in low-wage service sector), cheap foreign labor, and foreign labor itself increasingly being automated, there is virtually no chance that labor returns can increase, which in turn means real median household incomes for the bottom 80-90% will continue to decline.

    If the standard of success for rentier-capitalist globalization, i.e., Anglo-American imperial trade regime, is the enriching of Wall St., TBTE bank execs, the owners of the Fortune 25-100, and the power of the corporate-state that encourages the process, then one must also conclude that the consequences of the success of imperial rentier-capitalism is ongoing decline in incomes, purchasing power, and economic security and viability of the vast majority of working-class households in the US and around the world.

    Imperial rentier capitalism has won, but only the rentier capitalists and their corporate-state beneficiaries are enjoying the net gains.

    It would be hard to find a better defense of Marx’s critique of capitalism than what we are witnessing today in the US and around the world in terms of comparative returns to capital’s share of GDP vs. that of labor.

    In an intriguing twist of historical irony, the top 0.01-0.1% to 1% imperialist rentier-capitalist global corporate-statist elites represent the best example of the Marxist critique of capitalism than any argument since that posited by Marx himself.

    Rentier-capitalists of the world unite! Spread the wealth and financial and economic security to the rest of humanity, who, by no fault of their own, cannot compete with increasing automation and cheap foreign labor at risk of being automated out of existence itself.

  3. sergio
    June 11, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Please, somebody start using phrases “stagnant capitalism”, “failure of capitalism”, “collapse of capitalism”. Or such things can not be said about capitalism? Only about socialism?
    Please, be objective.

    • Ed
      June 14, 2013 at 7:34 pm

      I refer to the first two charts here:
      These show consistent, massive deception by omission. This is capitalism-as-practiced, it need NOT be so, BUT it is — “The brainwashability of the people when the news media are well-bought”. Capitalism cons.

  4. James Coles
    June 18, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Does the graph include after tax income transfers via the state; are education and Medicaid receipts included? If not then the graph may imply a great deal more support for the title of this piece than it actually does.

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