rise and fall

The typical US family now makes less than it did when the Berlin Wall fell

September 17, 2013
September 17, 2013

The typical US family is making less than it did back in 1989.

Yeah, that 1989: the year of the Exxon Valdez, Tiananmen Square, the Berlin Wall.

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According to just-released numbers from the US Census department, half of American households are earning more and half are earning less. The median household income in the US was an inflation-adjusted $51,682 in 1989. Fast forward to 2012 and that same typical US family earned $51,017, about 1.3% less than 23 years ago.

It’s not that incomes have been flat over that time; they soared during the 1990s, before stalling out and then crashing during and after the Great Recession.

Neil Irwin said it best over at WonkBlog: “This isn’t a lost decade for economic gains for Americans. It is a lost generation.”

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