Alex Tabarrok highlights the fact that the phenomenon of stagnating household incomes is really strictly a phenomenon of stagnating male incomes. Women’s incomes are rising in line with overall economic growth:
Women are earning at a lower level than the average, reflecting persistent pay discrimination and the fact that women generally work in lower paying occupational categories. I suppose there are a number of different ways one could look at this. One is that sharply reducing the structural barriers to women’s participation in the labor force outside the teacher/nurse/secretary troika constituted a major liberalization of labor markets, on a par with a gigantic policy switch, even though relatively little of it was done through formal legislation. That ought to have made the American economy much more efficient. But instead of accelerating growth, what we got from this increase in labor supply was a loss of earning power by working class men. It’s all part of a broad story of the past 30 years in which macroeconomic policymakers have been extremely good at preventing inflation but haven’t succeeded at preventing recessions and have actually gotten worse at ending them quickly.