Real Wages Haven't Grown for a Decade
It has been a bad 10 years for the economy. As I’ve written before, the last decade was, economically, a lost decade. As this graph from Ezra Klein shows, there has been essentially no job growth for ten years, net household worth actually fell, and the economy as a whole grew less than 18%—compared to 35% or more for every other decade since the Great Depression. In fact, in many ways, the last 10 years has been as bad as the Great Depression. That's why Paul Krugman called the decade "the Big Zero.”
The latest economic news has not been good. The most recent employment report found that the economy added just 54,000 non-farm jobs in May and that the unemployment rate is back up over 9%. As Robert Reich says, that puts us at real risk for a double-dip recession, even as politicians in Washington focus on cutting government spending. Catherine Rampell’s updated job chart shows just how bad the jobs situation has been, with the economy down more than 5% from peak employment more than 3 years into the recession.
Now the Commerce Department reports that real wage growth over the last ten years has been worse than any period for which we have data—including the Great Depression. Private sector wages grew just 4.2% over the last 10 years, compared to 5% from 1929 to 1939. Real wage growth has been more than 25% for every other period except the period ending with the recession in 1982. Even in that period real wages grew 16%—four times as fast as they grew over the last ten years.
The unprecedented stagnation in wages probably has a lot to do with the continually high unemployment rate, which gives employers the leverage to pay workers less. At the same time, as manufacturing has become increasingly automated, higher wage jobs have disappeared, while most new jobs have been in the lower paying service sector. And while the underlying “core” inflation rate has remained low, rising food and fuel prices have pushed real wages even further down. So if you feel like you have had a hard time getting by, you’re certainly not alone.
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The 21st century is experiencing an Asianization of politics, business, and culture.
- Our theories about the world, even about history or the geopolitics of the present, tend to be shaped by Anglo perspectives of the Western industrial democracies, particularly those in the United States and the United Kingdom.
- The West, however, is not united. Canada, for instance, acts in many ways that are not in line with American or British policies, particularly in regard to populism. Even if it were united, though, it would not represent most of the world's population.
- European ideas, such as parliamentary democracy and civil service, spread across the world in the 19th century. In the 20th century, American values such as entrepreneurialism went global. In the 21st century, however, what we're seeing now is an Asianization — an Asian confidence that they can determine their own political systems, their own models, and adapt to their own circumstances.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
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