Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's Deep Thought

How long before we start hearing that in this great recession women don't need jobs as badly as men?

This Bob Herbert column provoked a commenter on Eschaton to wonder if Herbert had something of that sort in mind when he wrote this:

The seeds of today's disaster were sown some 30 years ago. Looking at income patterns during that period, my former colleague at The Times, David Cay Johnston, noted that from 1980 (the year Ronald Reagan was elected) to 2005, the national economy, adjusted for inflation, more than doubled. (Because of population growth, the actual increase per capita was about 66 percent.)

But the average income for the vast majority of Americans actually declined during those years. The standard of living for the average family improved not because incomes grew but because women entered the workplace in droves.

As hard as it may be to believe, the peak income year for the bottom 90 percent of Americans was way back in 1973, when the average income per taxpayer, adjusted for inflation, was $33,000. That was nearly $4,000 higher, Mr. Johnston pointed out, than in 2005.

Men have done particularly poorly. Men who are now in their 30s — the prime age for raising families — earn less money than members of their fathers' generation did at the same age.

What Herbert fails to mention is that the fathers of the men who are now in their 30s made, on average, a whole lot more than the mothers of the women who are now in their 30s, for instance. He also fails to mention that men in their 30s still earn more, on average, than women in their 30s.