The Economy Is Doing Well, But Ordinary People Not So Much

Here’s another chart for you if you want a better sense of just how well the economy has been working for everyone over the past couple of decades:

Generally speaking, household income peaked in 1999 and has gone up and down since then. But for some, it’s been more down than up. Even after 110 months of expansion, the lowest earners make nearly 10 percent less than they did during the last economic peak. The top fifth, by contrast, earns 11 percent more than they did during the dotcom peak.

It’s been a tough 20 years. The poor have done abysmally; the middle class has stagnated; and even the affluent have only improved their earnings moderately. Meanwhile, real GDP per capita has increased a very nice 23 percent since 1999. So if GDP is up 23 percent, but even the affluent are up only 11 percent, where has all the money gone? The Census Bureau doesn’t tell us, but I’m sure you’ve already guessed: to the really, really rich. It’s a good time in America to be part of the top 1 percent.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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