As I have previously noted, the “news” media are doing their best to create the impression that the U.S. economy is going to Hell in a handbasket and that Americans in general are in bad shape.
This theme is echoed in the rhetoric of the leading presidential candidates, each of whom would like to convince the electorate that our only hope for a prosperous future lies in his election to the highest office in the land.
Before casting our votes, however, we would do well to examine a few actual facts. Daniel Griswold, of the Cato Institute, provides some objective data that conflict sharply with what we’re hearing:
Average real compensation per hour paid to American workers, which includes benefits as well as wages, has increased by 22 percent in the past decade.
Median household income in the United States is 6 percent higher in real dollars than it was a decade ago at a comparable point in the previous business cycle.
The median net worth of U.S. households jumped by almost one-third between 1995 and 2004, from $70,800 to $93,100.
Combined with low unemployment, low interest rates and low inflation, these data paint an economic picture considerably at odds with the image being peddled by the media and the politicians.
That doesn’t mean everything is perfect, of course, but our troubles are clearly being exaggerated by people of imperfect honesty.