Paul Krugman posted an interesting chart today, which I’ve simplified on the right to show only household income. It comes from Sentier Research, which tracks income in a more timely manner than the Census Bureau (though they use Census data). I noted the other day that if you looked at total worker compensation (including things like health insurance), then we’d finally seen a fairly healthy upward trend in 2015. But according to Sentier, even if you look only at ordinary cash income, we’ve pretty much recovered from the Great Recession. Household income has grown at the rate of 3-4 percent annually for the past two years. It took a long time to get there, but the recovery really does seem to finally be showing up in higher earnings.
This helps explain the sharp upward tick in Gallup’s poll about personal satisfaction that I wrote about yesterday: it’s because the economy really did start performing better for a lot of people in 2015. Now it’s time to try to persuade everyone that the country really isn’t going to hell in a handbasket even if Fox News and MSNBC spend every primetime evening telling us otherwise.