The Biden administration doesn’t seem to understand why the American people haven’t given them “credit” for the state of the nation’s economy. Maybe they finally need to wake up and realize that people don’t like how “Bidenomics” has fueled “Bidenflation.”
The Census Bureau recently released its annual reports on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage. The reports illustrate how families have lost ground since the Covid pandemic, and why low unemployment, or even rising wages, will not lead to positive feelings about the economy unless and until inflation gets under control.
American Households Losing Money
The most telling numbers in the reports come in Table A-2 of the income study. One column of that table lists household median income for a given year. (Median income refers to the 50th percentile of the distribution — that is, half of households made more than this amount, while half made less.) The numbers since the pandemic illustrate how American families have lost ground:
2020: $76,660 ($1,590 below 2019)
2021: $76,330 ($1,920 below 2019)
2022: $74,580 ($3,670 below 2019)
To put it another way, last year the median American household made $3,670 less in income than it did before the Covid pandemic.
The median income numbers are reported on a “real,” i.e., inflation-adjusted, basis. And the fact that inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, rose by 7.8 percent in 2022 — the largest increase since 1981, the census notes — explains why median household income fell by 2.3 percent last year.
Over the past four years, the differences become even more stark. All told, the median family has lost a total of $7,180 in real income since 2019. And that number doesn’t assume additional real income growth over the past four years, even though incomes generally grow under normal economic conditions. (The census notes that median incomes in 2019 were the highest recorded since 1967.)
The census data readily explain why “Bidenomics” remains so unpopular. If given the choice, which would you rather have: a $1,400 stimulus payment, or $7,180 in lost income from the past four years back in your wallet? I know which one I would prefer, and it isn’t the “stimmy.”
Since last year, incomes have continued to remain relatively stagnant. While real earnings grew from March through July, last month’s rapid spike in gas prices meant that real hourly earnings declined 0.5 percent in August on an inflation-adjusted basis. From August 2022 through last month, real hourly earnings grew by 0.5 percent, and real weekly earnings (which reflect changes in hours worked per week) grew by only 0.3 percent — not nearly enough to make up for the stagnation of the past four years.
Media’s Leftist Narrative Ignores Reality
As usual, the corporate media missed the real story in the census numbers, choosing instead to focus on a topic that will make the matter worse. Consider, for instance, an article from The Hill, whose headline blared, “Poverty Rate Increases for the First Time since 2010.” The story also claimed that “the child poverty rate more than doubled, from 5.2 percent in 2021 to 12.4 percent in 2022.”
Only in the story’s penultimate paragraph did something approaching the actual truth emerge:
The Census also found that the official poverty rate, which does not include government programs, was 11.5 percent between 2021 and 2022 and not statistically significant.
In other words, the headline about the poverty rate increasing and the content of all the prior paragraphs about the child poverty rate more than doubling were misleading at best, and downright false at worst. The media and the left (but I repeat myself) focused on the unofficial poverty metric because they want to build a narrative about the need to restore pandemic-era welfare programs to “reduce poverty.” That the official poverty rate, which excludes payments from government programs, was statistically unchanged proved inconvenient to this narrative, and therefore was all but ignored.
Also inconvenient, and therefore ignored: the fact that these pandemic welfare programs stoked rampant inflation, making Americans worse off than they were before Covid. That is the real story of the Census Bureau reports, and it’s a story that families are struggling with every day.