Patt Morrison for September 17, 2010

Punch in the gut of the American dream—family income on a 10-year slide

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Scott LaPierre/Flickr

Does the American Dream still have a chance amidst economic woes?

The Wall St. Journal called it the “lost decade for family income”: from 2000 – 2009 the inflation-adjusted income of the median household, smack in the middle of the populace, fell almost 5%. Household incomes have fallen before, but what makes this trend different, and especially disheartening, is that the drop in incomes comes after years of stagnation. The decline this time comes after a long period in which incomes stagnated even through some goods years in the 2000’s, and of course incomes are now mired in a slumping economy with obscene unemployment rates. With the backdrop of unemployment figures in California—Los Angeles County’s unemployment now sits at 13%, which is actually a slight improvement—is the American Dream now dead for future generations?

Guests:

Kevin Hallock, professor & chairman of the Department of Labor Economics at Cornell University; director, the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell

Nicholas Eberstadt, scholar in political economy at the American Enterprise Institute


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