Memo to Candidates: Workers Are Getting Screwed by the Economy

arrow-down-usaBloomberg published a piece which purports to be about how the Federal Reserve policies (by driving up the value of existing assets) is favoring senior citizens. That’s only compared to those of us who depend on wages for a living. The really astonishing thing that jumps out is how bad the economy is for workers.

Bloomberg used the Consumer Expenditure Survey to measure consumption, rather than reported income or wealth.  Seniors’ consumption went up 5 percent between 2007 and 2014 adjusted for inflation — extremely modest growth (and since medical expenses go up faster than inflation, it might represent no real increase at all).

But the really shocking thing is how badly everyone else is doing. Households headed by someone aged 35 to 44 saw their expenditures drop 7 percent that period, adjusted for inflation. Younger households saw their income decline by 4 percent over the same period, according to Bloomberg’s analysis of the Survey of Consumer Finances.

How bad? Families headed by those ages 45 to 54 saw a 17 percent decline in income adjusted for inflation between 2007 and 2014. That’s not quite the Great Depression, but it is close.

No wonder a political tsunami is brewing.

I’ve said it before, but let me say it again: Explaining why the average American working family is hurting, and telling them what electing a Republican can do about it, is the most important issue.

Trump says it’s immigrants and bad trade deals that are to blame. It’s a bad answer. Immigrants and trade deals did not put a damper on the great Reagan-Clinton boom years. But a bad answer beats no answer.

The biggest problem we face with Trump is that he does not understand why the economy is faltering or what can restore growth that lifts wages for the average family.

The biggest problem everyone else facing Trump has is making it clear why electing them will do things for voters that Trumponomics cannot.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.