This past Friday, Brookings Institution scholars Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney released new research on the Up Front Blog detailing how Americans are working longer hours than ever, but not netting higher wages for hours worked.
The researchers shockingly found that “although median wages for two-parent families have increased 23 percent since 1975, the evidence suggests that this is not the result of higher wages. Rather, these families are just working more. In 2009, for instance, the typical two-parent family worked 26 percent longer than the typical family in 1975.” They illustrate this with the following graph:
The authors also note that while wages have increased over time, those increases do not come from higher wages for time worked. Rather, they are a result of overtime. As an addendum to this Brookings research, it’s important to note that while median wages for most Americans have not grown with productivity, the wealthiest Americans continue to eat up more and more of the nation’s wealth.
Income inequality is currently higher than it has been at any other time since the 1920s. At an event ThinkProgress attended today about how to re-focus the nation’s political agenda on job growth, Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) took note of this growing income inequality:
LEVIN: These are the figures about income growth from 1976 to 2007. 58 percent of the income growth in those 30 years went to the top 10 percent. 58 percent. A third went to the top five percent. 20 percent of income growth those 30 years went to the top 1 percent. And nearly 10 percent went to the top one-tenth of one percent. And so we need to talk to our fellow sister citizens, this is the land of opportunity. When income growth is so tilted in favor of a small minority, it really challenges the growth of the middle class in the United States of America.
It should be noted that one of the greatest factors involved in American wage stagnation and the explosion of inequality has been the decline of strong labor unions.