The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Obama says the typical family income ‘barely budged’ between 1979 and 2007. It grew at least 15 percent.

During his big economic speech Wednesday, President Obama declared, "The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed – the income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged."

The problem, as James Pethokoukis pointed out, is the latter statement is not true. Admittedly, "barely budged" is a pretty vague term, but according to the Current Population Survey's Annual Social Economic Supplements (ASEC) — a Census Bureau publication tracking income, health coverage, and poverty — the real median American family income increased by 17.7 percent between 1979 and 2007, and the real median household income (which includes people living alone and unrelated roommates) grew by 14.7 percent:

This is not to say that there's nothing going wrong with the income distribution in the U.S. Obama is totally right that incomes at the top of the distribution grew much, much faster in recent decades than median incomes:

And for some categories of workers — in particular those with less education, and men — wages are actually falling. Men with only some college education saw their wages fall by a third from 1969 to 2009; men with only a high school degree saw wages halved:

But real median household incomes in America are growing, and it's inaccurate of Obama to suggest otherwise.

Update: This post originally implied CBO numbers didn't include health insurance; they do.

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