Obama bragging about economy while real wages are down

Obama talks about the size of workers’ pay checks while at Northwestern University recently. (AP photo)

Obama is engaging in a bit of sleight of hand.

“This progress has been hard, but it has been steady, and it has been real,” the president said recently. “It is a direct result of the American people’s drive and their determination and their resilience but it is also the result of sound decisions made by my administration. So it is indisputable that our economy is stronger today than it was when I took office.”

Yes, unemployment ticked down to 5.9 percent, though the labor force also shrank as people gave up looking for work or retired.

But what really matters is buying power, and that is stagnant and well below what it was when Obama took office, according to the latest Census figures.

The median inflation-adjusted income in 2013 was $51,939, down $2,120 from when Obama took office.

Obama likes to compare himself to Ronald Reagan, so compare.

When Reagan took office in 1981 that median inflation-adjusted income level was $46,877. When he left office eight years later it was up $4,637.

WSJ graphic

35 comments on “Obama bragging about economy while real wages are down

  1. Vernon Clayson says:

    The truth is not in this man, smarter people than he tell him what to say knowing many people will believe him just because. “Just because” works for those that are less perceptive and thus less likely to question him. The latter works for the majority of the media and, sadly, the majority of the Congress.

  2. Nyp says:

    Gosh, I would thing that the “inflation-adjusted buying power” of a person with a job would be higher than that of a person without one.

    Still, I am heartened by the fact that you now care so deeply about the distributional consequences of economic growth

  3. Rincon says:

    Funny that your graph shows median household income declining since 2007, while I have one that says GDP continues to climb dramatically with only a short pause in 2008 or 9. This is exactly what I’ve been screaming about. Do you think Obama is in collusion with the 1%? https://www.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl#q=u.s.+gdp

  4. nyp says:

    Actually, David Leonhardt has a characteristically thoughtful piece on wage slowdowns:

  5. Athos says:

    I forget what thread it was in, so I’ll just put it down in this one: I was watching Atlas II the other night and was struck by how much one of the characters reminded me of you, Rincon.

    Care to guess which character it was? He must have said at least 3 lines that you’ve repeated ad nauseam, thru out the movie.

    Give up?

    It was Wesley Mouch!

    Same damn hatred of the rich. Same stupid belief in government being the agent to take from the producers, and give to the leeches. Wow. It’s like you’re famous, Rin!

    And I wasn’t far off when I thought you were from Detroit, was I? Chicago. Land of the birthplace of Crooked Politicians! (OK, excluding NYC). No wonder your dear wife saw so much poverty. Democrat control, welfare plantations, union corruption, and people who have no pride inhabit that town in droves. It really is a moral issue. Poor people in my midwest hometown (when I was a kid, 50 years ago) still had pride of ownership, and maintained their residence (even the rentals!!) and personal appearance.

    And the vast majority attended church every Sunday. Nowadays, people refer to religion as “the opiate of the masses”.

    Wonder where they ever got THAT notion?

  6. Rincon says:

    If you accuse me of hating the rich, then it’s obvious through your vitriol that you hate the poor. Sounds like class warfare brewing. Unlike you Athos, I believe in supporting my argument and not merely frothing at the mouth. Even though the information means nothing to you, here it is anyway. Only one of the ten states with the worst quality of life, as judged by 24/7 Wall Street, is a blue state. Sounds to me like Republican management isn’t working so well. Illinois wasn’t to be found in the bottom 10. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/10-states-worst-quality-life-164909712.html

  7. nyp says:

    the federal deficit is now down to less than 3% of GDP. In 2009 it was 9.8% of GDP. that’s the largest five-year decline in modern history.

  8. Athos says:

    “If you accuse me of hating the rich, then it’s obvious through your vitriol that you hate the poor.” Nothing could be further from the truth, Wesley. I think the green eyed monster has consumed you when it comes to the top 1%. Am I wrong? And with your President Pinocchio being in office, how many years now?, why hasn’t this wealth decrease to the 99% been corrected? Hmmm

    As to petey and his cheerleading our ever increasing economic outlook, sophomoric attempts at best. Of course, it’s meant to sway the uninformed voters (read: moochers and looters) of our electorate.

    But that’s the “fundamental transformation” plan, all along, isn’t it, petey?

  9. nyp says:

    in fact, the federal deficit has fallen as a percentage of GDP for each of the past five years.

  10. Steve says:

    That is what happens when the balloon gets inflated to the burst point then you let out a little bit at a time.

    Stop the burst…listen to the farts.

  11. Winston Smith says:

    It’s always nice when a great victory is declared after the nation returns to the crappy numbers that were “normal” before a manipulated financial crisis that caused the temporary horrific numbers, that was used to impoverish the average citizen.

    Kinda like celebrating the price of gasoline dropping back to $3/gal after 4 years of nearly $4/gal.

    The federal debt stands at over $17.859 trillion and growing. Certainly nothing to brag about, and I’m sure my grandchildren will thank me for their $55,977 personal debt and the interest that they will be servicing…forever.

    War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength

  12. Athos says:

    All according to the plan. Right, petey and Wesley?

  13. Winston Smith says:

    Athos, man, 3:46 am? What’s up with that? Work nights?

  14. nyp says:

    well, I do suppose you could say that the fastest reduction in the federal deficit in modern history was according to plan. It is certainly 100% different from what you wingers were predicting.

  15. nyp says:

    Of course, liberals like myself point out that we should not have reduced the deficit so drastically, and that the rapid withdrawal of government stimulus is why it took the US so long to recover from the Great Recession. Still, we are doing much much better than Europe, which practiced the growth-through-shrinkage theory that American conservatives recommend. The results have been catastrophic for the people of Europe.

  16. Athos says:

    Winston: “I rise when the sun goes down, and cover every game in town..”

    petey: Pinocchio’s going for the “fundamental transformation” baby!

    Rincon: you better talk to petey if you want to keep touting Socialist Europe as a Beacon for Economic Equality!

  17. nyp says:

    Sounds good to me. Here is what the President actually said (in the 2008 campaign):

    “”Now, Mizzou, I just have two words for you tonight: five days. Five days. After decades of broken politics in Washington, and eight years of failed policies from George W. Bush, and 21 months of a campaign that’s taken us from the rocky coast of Maine to the sunshine of California, we are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

    “In five days, you can turn the page on policies that put greed and irresponsibility on Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street. In five days, you can choose policies that invest in our middle class, and create new jobs, and grow this economy, so that everyone has a chance to succeed, not just the CEO, but the secretary and janitor, not just the factory owner, but the men and women on the factory floor.”

    I not sure what part of that Athos would disagree with.

  18. Athos says:

    Hmm. So tell me, petey, there seems to be some conflict between what Rincon says and what Pinocchio has accomplished in his first 6 years of office.

    Middle class investments, Main street success, the economy improving for the secretary and janitor, not just the factory owner? Color me blind, but me and Rinny aren’t seeing that, are we? Unless “sharing in the success” means living on food stamps?

    You know, like those socialists in Europe (that are doing so good, or is it living in a catastrophe?) Bear with me, trying to keep track of all your lies is a bit confusing!

  19. nyp says:

    You said that the socialist-Muslim-terrorist-Kenyan President was promising something evil by saying in a campaign speech that a victory for his ticket would “fundamentally transform” our society” in some evil way by cracking down on Wall Street, growing the middle class and making it easier for children of factory workers to get ahead. I like all of those things, and I can’t see why you contlinue to oppose them.

  20. Athos says:

    Well, there’s the little problem of his words matching reality. Does he need another couple years to accomplish his stated goals? ‘Cause I haven’t seen much progress in the growing the middle class. He has put millions on food stamps! Is that the new Alinsky definition of “middle class”?

    And thank you for properly identifying President Pinocchio! (’bout time!)

  21. Wall Street took dive this week. The middle class is losing buying power. The children of factory workers are saddled with debt.

  22. Rincon says:

    The GDP is way up though. Obviously, a rising tide does not lift all boats. One more Conservative myth put to rest.

  23. Nyp says:

    Gosh, you want to compare the Dow Jones and S&P averages now to those when President Obama took over?

  24. Nyp says:

    Hmm …. Let’s see:
    Dow Jones industrial average day on President Obama’s inauguration: 7,909

    Dow Jones industrial average today: 16,000

  25. Nyp says:

    NASDAQ composite index day of President Obama’s inauguration: 1,520

    NASDAQ composite index, today: 4,276

  26. Nyp says:

    S&P 500 day of President Obama’s inauguration: 849

    S&P 500 index today: 1,906


  27. So he is good for Wall Street but not Main Street?

  28. Nyp says:

    You are the one complaining about “Wall Street taking a dive”.

  29. Rincon says:

    Why is it that we think the President is King? The economic problems we have now were decades in the making. With a do-nothing Congress, the President’s power to lift the economy is severely limited anyway. I agree that Obama could have done better, but getting us into this mess was truly a bipartisan undertaking. Without bipartisan effort, it will take decades to get out, if we ever do.

  30. Athos says:

    “Why is it that we think the President is King?” WE ARE NOT saying that, Rinny. PINOCCHIO is saying that!! (remember the pen and the phone comment?) In fact, the way he’s enforcing immigration laws are like a Dictator that operates like there is no constitution.

    Where is your Champion of the “little people”?? He’s too busy fundraising to govern.

    And petey, why are you being so disingenuous? I thought you claimed to be a stock broker? I don’t think anyone knows how much money the FED has pumped into the economy over the last 6 years.

    $4 Trillion? And what are bank, and CD savings rates? 0.025%? So just exactly where would anyone keep their money but in stocks? Las Vegas REITs?? The middle class is not investing in Real Estate and unlike Soros and John Paulson, we don’t have the political clout to buy up a bank at a discount, do we?

    And Tom’s comment was right on point. Your man, Pinocchio has been saving Wall Street and not Main Street (like he promised).

    And that AIN’T Bush’s fault!!

  31. Nyp says:

    Never said I was a stockbroker. Anyway, the suggestion that the market is in a bubble situation falls apart when you look at the P/E ratios.

    Personally, I like the fact that my IRA has increased in value. I guess that is what obama socialism does for you.

  32. Rincon says:

    The GNP per person continues to rise at its historic rates, so in that sense, the economy is doing fine. That’s also part of the reason the stock market is up without excessive P/E ratios. The Main Street problem is simple: The middle class isn’t getting their share of the pie and have learned the hard way not to borrow so much; therefore, less money is spent on Main Street.

  33. Steve says:

    So, lets see, Nyp is claiming Obama has the credit for a strong DOW…the FED has done nothing to create that particular bubble?

    I too like the valuation of two 401’s…and other moneys I have out there…but I am concerned if Obama is the one behind it, then how come its the FED doing the tapering?

  34. Athos says:

    Rin, there is so much trouble in Pinocchio Economic World, that without a strong belief in God, I’d be worried sick. What is the latest “socialist” plan that is gonna backfire bigtime? How about student debt hitting $1.4 Trillion (that’s trillion with a “T”, and that stands for Trouble. Right here in River City!)

    First off, only 3/4s of Americans 25-34 are working. I don’t know what percentage of those are overqualified or taking jobs not in their field of study, but that’s a lot of kids who should be buying cars, houses, getting married, etc that are spending what money they have on paying back that school loan debt.

    And you can’t bankrupt that loan, can you? What percentage of that group were traditionally 1st time home buyers, that are too broke to buy, now? 40%?

    And petey, you prove (once again) that the truly greedy “it’s all about me and mine” are NOT the conservatives, but you bleeding heart (“my IRA is doing great!) socialist lemmings!

    Your actions are infantile!

  35. Rincon says:

    Student debt is primarily due to rising educational costs. Unless you’ve been hiding underground, you’re aware that tuition costs have risen much faster than inflation. Loan programs have only a minor impact on those costs.

    “First off, only 3/4s of Americans 25-34 are working”. I hate to beat a dead horse, but the cause is obvious. Demand is low. As the middle class gets smaller, they spend less, meaning fewer people are employed to fill their needs. These economic trends have been going on for 35 years. They won’t reverse quickly and Obama, along with every other politician, has done little to reverse them.

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