The Census Bureau is out with the annual report on incomes and poverty. And while you might think that after years of stagnant incomes and elevated poverty rates, we would be inured to the depressing facts contained therein, it still somehow has the power to shock.
Nah, the most depressing result comes when you look at the longer view of household incomes in the United States. This chart shows real median household income over the past 25 years; that is, the money earned, in inflation-adjusted dollars, by the family at the exact middle of the income distribution.
Headlines about these numbers tend to focus on how we have now experienced a lost decade for the middle-class American family, with incomes back to their late 1990s level. But as the chart shows it's really worse than that.
In 1989, the median American household made $51,681 in current dollars (the 2012 number, again, was $51,017). That means that 24 years ago, a middle class American family was making more than the a middle class family was making one year ago.
This isn't a lost decade for economic gains for Americans. It is a lost generation.