News stories often raise more questions than they answer. Such is the case with an article by Robert Pear, who seems to agree with Robert Reich that we’re in a “jobs depression,” then says something else:
In a grim sign of the enduring nature of the economic slump, household income declined more in the two years after the recession ended than it did during the recession itself, new research has found. Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession – from December 2007 to June 2009 – household income fell 3.2 percent. The finding helps explain why Americans’ attitudes toward the economy, the country’s direction and its political leaders have continued to sour even as the economy has been growing.
First the gloomy income figures of a country in decline, then the assertion that “the economy has been growing.” How is Pear defining economic growth if the term doesn’t entail improved standards of living for the vast majority of citizens who aren’t wealthy? If, in fact, it can be compatible with declining standards of living?
Growth used to mean increased productivity, more products and markets, cheaper goods and service, increased demand for goods and services sparking job creation and good wages. Now there’s no demand. White-collar and blue-collar jobs continue to be outsourced, off-shored or eliminated. There’s been a 9.2 drop in income from the start of the recession to June 2011. Some of us can’t even afford to buy new shoes.
And yet the usual suspects continue to trumpet economic growth. Anyone who speaks like this is consciously or unconsciously equating growth with the soaring incomes of banksters, CEOs and other members of the owner class who are bleeding everyone else dry.
It’s time to talk about redefining terms such as growth, recession and depression, don’t you think, Robert Pear?