A new report commissioned by Think NC First and written by John Quinterno gives a new moniker to the official recovery that began in 2009: incomeless. Add that to the “jobless” and “uneven” labels that the recovery has earned to date and the reality for us all begins to look not at all like recovery. The report takes a thorough look at income in North Carolina and finds that the trends are “running in reverse.” Among the findings:
- From 2007 to 2013, the inflation-adjusted income of the median North Carolina household dropped by more than 8%. Median income fell by 5.5% from 2007 to 2009 and by another 3.2% during the recovery that started in 2009 through 2013.
- From 2009 to 2013, real average household income fell or remained unchanged for every household income group in North Carolina except for the top 5%.
- The distribution of household income in North Carolina has grown more unequal since 2007, and the distribution of income in North Carolina in 2013 was more unequal than in the nation as a whole.
- The annual earnings of the median worker (ages 16+) fell by 7.4% between 2007 and 2013.
- Real median household income in North Carolina was effectively no different in 2013 than in 1984.
As Quinterno points out, the lack of jobs and other labor market conditions have put downward pressure on wages but policy choices have made worse these wage outcomes.
Allowing inflation to erode the value of the minimum wage, refusing to enforce and to modernize labor laws, undercutting the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system, making work more costly by repealing the state earned income tax credit, and enacting tax policies that fail to boost growth yet drain needed public revenues—these choices have tamped down wages and incomes.