Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Nothing New About Wage Stagnation In The US

There has been a lot of political discussion about job creation during the election campaign.  Romney blames it on the policies of the Obama administration.  He claims that cutting taxes and government regulations will produce 12 million jobs.  What neither candidate talks about is wage stagnation in the US.  That has been going on since 1970 because of automation and globalization.

Men have been particularly hard hit by wage stagnation.  The median male working male between age 25 and 64 has seen his wages decline from 1970 to 2010 by 4%.

The numbers are even worse when we look at all men, including those not working, between age 25 and 64.  The median wage for men in this category has declined by 19% between 1970 and 2010.

We know that wages are related to the attainment of a college degree.  The percentage of males with a college degree has been flat since 1978.

Women have done much better than men in wage growth and in obtaining a college degree.  Median income for working age women has increased by 70% from a much smaller base in 1970.  However, it has only increased by 6% since 2000.

The growth in wages for women has been correlated with educational attainment.  The percentage of women with a college degree has increased by 38% since 1970.  There are now more women with college degrees than men.

It is pretty clear that the entry of women into the workforce, and the rapid growth in their education and wages has enabled many families to maintain a more consistent standard of living.  There would have been a devastating decline in living standards for families with a single male wage earner.

Curiously, white males have become more conservative as their wages have stagnated.  No Democratic political candidate since Lyndon Johnson has won the majority of the votes from white males.  There would be no contest in the battle for the White House if women had not voted predominantly for Democrats.  Education level may have something to do with this result.  Men seem to prefer alpha males as their leaders.  Better educated women are turned off by alpha males.

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