Raw Data: A Lost Decade for Workers

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.

Here’s a chart showing how much health insurance cost in 2000 vs. 2010:

To summarize: for singles, the employer share of health insurance has gone up from about $2,000 to about $4,000. That’s a $2,000 increase. For family policies, the employer share has gone up from about $5,000 to $10,000. That’s a $5,000 increase.

If you figure that policies are split about 60-40 in favor of family policies, that’s an average increase per worker of around $4,000. Adjusted for inflation, that’s about $3,000 in extra benefits that we’re getting in our pay packets.

Data for cash income is only available through 2008, but it’s certainly gone down since then, which means that average real cash earnings during the past decade have probably gone down from $39,000 to about $37,000 or so. Add back in the value of the healthcare premiums we get, and average income has gone up from $39,000 to $40,000. This is all back-of-the-envelope stuff, but it’s close enough to get a pretty good idea of how much average income has gone up over the past decade. Answer: a whopping 0.2% per year.

I won’t bore you with a comparison to the increase for the super rich. You’d just get depressed.

UPDATE: Aaron Carroll says things are even worse than I suggest here. If you look at trends in benefit levels, copays, deductibles, and premium costs, the non-healthcare portion of worker income may have actually declined over the past decade. Are we all getting better healthcare for all this extra money? Maybe. But it’s no surprise that families are feeling squeezed by this.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate