Monday, February 4, 2013

Large Jump in Household Income

That's what the New Times Times is now reporting. "The one bright spot in Wednesday’s dim gross domestic product report was a large jump in household income."

The New Times Times considers a large jump in household income to be when the "median annual household income" is now $51,378...which is an annual gross income of $25,689 per person --- and especially in a two-income "household", which makes up 80% of all households.

In other words, there was no "large jump" in personal income for Joe Six-Pack --- the New York Times article was probably meant to be a "feel good" piece, so we all wouldn't feel so beat down, exploited and used while the people at the top are still partying like it's 1929.

Meanwhile, both mom and dad must still bust their asses at work to pay the monthly bills, while many of their teenagers are skipping school, hanging out at the mall and partying like it's 1999.

Social Security reports that 50% of all wage earners netted $26,965.43 a year (or less) in 2011. Did 50% of all wage earners see a "large jump" in their income since then? Hell no.

The report that the New York Times cited was from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and it says "personal income increased $352.4 billion, or 2.6 percent". Doesn't this also include Wall Street bonuses, stock options, CEO salaries, and deferred interest payments (as in “other types of irregular pay”) like Mitt Romney earns?

Who got the bulk of these "increased personal incomes"? It wasn't the hotel and casino workers here in Las Vegas. It wasn't the workers at Wal-Mart or McDonald's, America's second and third largest employers.

The federal government (including our military, diplomatic corps, intelligence agencies, and defense contractors) is our largest employer -- and those people may have gotten fair raises. And I think Congress just voted themselves another raise too (making their "shared sacrifice" for the country).

But most average wage earners didn't see any dramatic increases in their wages. Payroll taxes went back to normal, and prices went up again. And the corporations probably just added another line of fine print at the bottom of your bill.

"Mean" and "median" income are measures which skews the facts, and don't tell the whole story. Let's not sugar-coat the facts. The cost-of-living has continued to go up much faster than wages for the past 40 years. The middle-class has drastically shrunk during that time in proportion to the population.

I was "middle-class" for the first 53 years of my life, now I exist on food stamps. My wage didn't increase, it was completely eliminated back in 2008 when I was laid off with millions of other people.

But I digress: A "large jump" in household income would have been if the average wage "per person" in the bottom 50% went up from $7.25 an hour to $17 or $20 an hour.

If Bill Gate's or Warren Buffett's wage goes up 2.6 percent, who the hell cares?

About the Bureau of Labor Statistics (Lies, damned lies, and statistics)

  • Government data is biased in politically correct directions and has increasingly diverged from common experience and reality since the mid-1980s.
  • Inflation and unemployment reports are understated, while employment and other economic data are deliberately overstated.
  • During the Kennedy administration, unemployment was redefined with the concept of "discouraged workers" to reduce the unemployment rate.
  • If LBJ didn't like the growth to be reported in the GNP, he sent it back to the Commerce Department until they got it right. His administration was also responsible for the accounting gimmicks that hide most of the federal deficit.
  • Nixon had a highly publicized war with the BLS regarding unemployment data. Nixon wanted to report the unemployment rate as the lower of seasonally adjusted or not seasonally adjusted, without disclosing this to the public. This methodology -- at the time unconscionable and therefore never implemented -- was introduced as "state-of-the-art" by the Bush administration in 2004.
  • The Carter administration was caught deliberately understating inflation.
  • The Reagan administration introduced changes to boost reported GNP/GDP on a regular basis, and heavily manipulated trade deficit data in 1987.
  • The first Bush administration launched efforts to reduce reported CPI inflation and worked an outside-the-system GDP manipulation to help with the 1992 campaign.
  • As Labor Secretary Reich explained, the Clinton administration found that if the government inflated economic reporting, enough people would believe it to swing a close election. Unemployment was redefined to eliminate five million discouraged workers and lower the unemployment rate. Methodologies were changed to reduce poverty spending, reduce reported CPI inflation, and inflate reported GDP growth.
  • The second Bush administration expanded on the Clinton changes, particularly regarding a lower-inflation CPI, redefined GDP, and changes to seasonal adjustment. Seasonal factors typically are calculated annually, based on recent years' patterns of activity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, began revising and recalculating its employment seasonal factors every month as of January 2004.

This month-to-month economic reporting has ever been concerned with month-to-month human suffering. I am only one of 8 million Americans who lost their jobs during the Great Recession, and most of us never found work again. The "99ers" were swept under the carpet with all the other rigged statistics, and they never saw any increases in their wages.

See my post: Two Income Households, 'Mean' and 'Median' Income Statistics

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