Bernie blames the billionaire class (all 400 of them). Hillary promises to boost economic growth to help the American middle-class by growing the economy which begs the question how she will accomplish what her former boss has largely ignored for seven and a half years.
Voters should ask how all this will be fixed. How will Washington stimulate growth that actually raises real household income? Politicians typically ignore the root cause of problems which is why they don’t solve the problem. It is much easier to distract voters with scapegoats and empathetic promises.
Keep in mind the nature of the problem. So, can we raise American incomes without also increasing the cost of goods and services across the board? What we need is true economic growth, not wealth transfer, not government subsidies of one kind or another, but an economy that allows Americans to raise their real incomes.
Now, how do we do that?
Changes in median income reflect several trends: the aging of the population, changing patterns in work and schooling, and the evolving makeup of the American family, as well as long- and short-term trends in the economy itself. For instance, the retirement of the Baby Boom generation should push down overall median income, as more persons enter lower-income retirement. However, analysis of different working age groups indicate a similar pattern of stagnating median income as well.
Journalist Annie Lowrey wrote in September 2014: “The root causes [of wage stagnation] include technological change, the decline of labor unions, and globalization, economists think, though they disagree sharply on how much to weight each factor. But foreign-produced goods became sharply cheaper, meaning imports climbed and production moved overseas. And computers took over for humans in many manufacturing, clerical, and administrative tasks, eroding middle-class jobs growth and suppressing wages.”
Another line of analysis, known as “total compensation,” presents a more complete picture of real wages. The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted a study in 2013 which shows that employer contributions to employee healthcare costs went up 78% from 2003 to 2013. The marketplace has made a trade-off: expanding benefits packages vs. increasing wages.