Explaining Away Stagnant Wages


Every now and again, the Bush administration or some other booster of the current economy will argue that wages aren’t really stagnating, as they appear to be to anyone who looks at the numbers. Rather, workers are just receiving more and more of their compensation in health care benefits.

Trouble is, that’s not true, at least not for workers at the very bottom of the ladder. According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 2004 and 2005 the bottom 20 percent saw their wages decline 1.9 percent. Yet only 24 percent of those workers get health insurance through their employer. Basically, health care costs would have had to increase 39 percent during that year for this to be the primary explanation; in fact, it rose 9.2 percent. In reality, there’s something badly wrong with an economic “recovery” that has a large number of workers seeing their paychecks shrink rather than grow.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight 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

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.