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

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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.


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.”