Public opinion surveys consistently show pessimistic views of the economy for the broad mass of people. Growing numbers believe the Great Recession led to a permanent change in the economy, which is probably something less than true – with few exceptions, these wage and income trends have been consistent since the late 1970s. But the other questions in this Rutgers poll appear right on the mark. Almost eight in ten Americans knew somebody laid off between 2008-2012. For leading indicators like low unemployment, affordable higher education, and job and retirement security, the majority of Americans think they will never see positive progress for many years. Just 16 percent of respondents thought job and career opportunities would be better for the next generation, a figure nearly four times lower than from 1999.And we can chalk this up to the wisdom of crowds, because the public happens to be right. It is harder to get a job out of college. It is harder to avoid the trap of underemployment. It is harder to prosper in the career you want. It is harder to save amid stagnant wages. It is harder to grow as an economy when the gains flow to the top. It is harder to secure enough reserves for a dignified retirement.
Facts are facts and these are the facts.
The charts are ugly. But they tell us what we already know.
The Federal Reserve has just released its Survey of Consumer Finances for the year 2013.
These surveys occur every three years, so this is the first comprehensive update we have gotten about the distribution of income and wealth in the US since the economy hit bottom four years ago.
The most striking finding is that the median American family earned 5 per cent less in 2013 than in 2010 after inflation even though the average American family took home 4 per cent more.