One of the more striking parts of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 income, poverty and health insurance report is its data on income stagnation. While incomes went up in 2016, the current median household nonetheless brings in about as much as its counterpart in 1999 did — that is, around $59,000 (in inflation-adjusted dollars).
If you look at men’s earnings alone, though, the trends are worse.
Today’s full-time, year-round male worker earns a median of $52,000. That’s roughly what his counterpart made in 1972.
Full-time, year-round working women’s earnings, meanwhile, have increased in that time period, and are now at their highest level on record. With a median of $48,000, women’s earnings are still way behind men’s earnings of course. But the direction women’s wages are moving is nonetheless upward. While women might feel like they’re making progress, men understandably might feel like they’re treading water.
Remember that these figures are also for full-time, year-round workers only. Men’s participation in the labor force has steadily declined over this same time period, which means the trends for median male earnings would look even worse if you included the growing pool of men who have no earnings at all. (Women’s labor force participation peaked in 2000 and has fallen since then, but it’s still much higher than it was a generation or two ago.)