US wages have gone precisely nowhere over the past year. Inflation-adjusted US hourly earnings growth was 0% in July compared to the previous year, according to just released stats.
This is not only an economic problem. For the Democrats, who’ve held the White House since 2008, it’s also a political problem. The US has posted some of the strongest job growth since the late 1990s in recent months. But the Obama administration is getting zero credit from the American populace, with some 64% of respondents to a June Gallup poll saying they disapprove of the president’s handling of the economy. That’s the worst since late 2011, when the US unemployment rate was nearly 9%. (It’s currently 6.2%.)
The negative assessment of Obama’s economic management would seem to fly in the face of analyses which suggest that the rate of change in unemployment is one of the most-powerful determinants of election results. (Although polling and actual elections are decidedly different beasts.)
Another determinant some political economists have pointed to is so called real disposable income per capita. Through June, real disposable income per capita in the US was up a scant 1.6% compared to the prior year. (During the waning years of the Clinton administration in the late 1990s it was often over 5%.)
By any measure, working America does not feel particularly buoyant right now. Even as the economy has improved over the past couple of years, payroll tax increases and expiration of extended food stamp benefits are putting lower income US wage earners under pressure. And to see that you don’t have to look at political polling. You just have to look at Wal-Mart’s earnings.