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The last decade wasn’t called the “naughts” for nothing!

The first decade of the new millennium was the first time since we started keeping records when we failed to create any new jobs. Not only that, but it was the first decade when the average net worth of American families declined.

From the Washington Post:

There has been zero net job creation since December 1999. No previous decade going back to the 1940s had job growth of less than 20 percent. Economic output rose at its slowest rate of any decade since the 1930s as well.

Middle-income households made less in 2008, when adjusted for inflation, than they did in 1999 — and the number is sure to have declined further during a difficult 2009. The Aughts were the first decade of falling median incomes since figures were first compiled in the 1960s.

And the net worth of American households — the value of their houses, retirement funds and other assets minus debts — has also declined when adjusted for inflation, compared with sharp gains in every previous decade since data were initially collected in the 1950s.

UPDATE: I’m sure this news will start a flurry of finger pointing, with the Democrats blaming Dubya, the Republicans blaming Bubba Clinton, and I’m sure some wing-nuts will try to blame Obama. But the simple truth is that we have nobody to blame but ourselves. We created the housing bubble by blindly believing that housing prices would always rise faster than inflation, even though that is impossible. The American people somehow stopped caring about education and science, allowing the anti-evolution crowd and other forces of ignorance to influence curriculum. Sources of misinformation like Fox News wouldn’t be able to poison political discourse if people didn’t watch them. And rampant greed and power-lust wouldn’t destroy our economy if we stopped worshiping money and power.



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    As long as the jobs are in China, there will be not enough jobs here. As long as health care is offered in the work place, goods produced here have to be astronomically higher here so unaffordable. Health care has to be removed and tied to income, the rich paying more.
    These statistics show that the Republicans exactly to the dollar succeeded in their aim to concentrate the wealth in the top 5% of the population. These are those benefitting from the jobs being in China. We are back to the middle ages with the squires and peasants.
    Would someone who watches television tell me what the right wingnuts on Faux news say about our rights in airports? Is the government violating our rights with increased scrutiny? Or is government interference at airports at great expense all right with wingnuts.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 5:37 am | Permalink
  2. @Iron Knee. The housing bubble certainly explains some of it (U.S households net worth, for example), but surely you’re not implying it played a principal role in the decline of middle-class incomes through the decade or net job creation (before the bubble burst). The other reasons are spot on. Diminished respect for (and investments in) education and science, the privatization of (and loss of accountability in) the mainstream news media, and the excesses of a capitalism-worshiping culture are all to blame…and surprise surprise, they’re all byproducts of conservative/Republican ideology.

    If you add in the points that ebdoug made about offshoring jobs, the reduction of the manufacturing sector, our uniquely American system of privatizing so much of healthcare, and the zombie-like persistence of Reagonomics, I’d say you get a pretty complete picture of what’s going on.

    If you look at other Western economies, the ones that thrive are the ones like Germany or Japan, export-oriented nations whose governments tax their citizens a lot more than we do and who use that tax money to invest in the education and healthcare and job security of their citizens rather than maintaining the largest military force the world has ever seen.

    Daniel Habtemariam

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

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  1. Political Irony › The Dumbing Down of America on Saturday, January 16, 2010 at 12:51 am

    […] give their children a better life, but we are now backsliding. A few weeks ago I posted about how Americans’ household net worth went down for the first time in history. But not only are we worse off economically, our children are not […]