Actually, Income Growth for the Middle Class Is No Mystery

Five years?!

A NYT article on efforts to overcome stagnating incomes for the middle class bizarrely skipped over the most obvious and proven method: low unemployment. The problem shows up in the very first sentence, which tells readers:

"For average American families, the United States economy is like a football team that cannot move the ball, and has not been able to for 30 years."

Actually, the football team moved the ball very well in the years from 1996 to 2001, when families at middle and bottom of the income ladder saw large wage gains. In fact, this five year period accounted for all the growth in wage income for middle class families since 1980. The problem was that the recession that began in 2001 following the collapse of the stock market bubble led to higher unemployment and took away workers bargaining power.