40 years of declining wages

I’ve been pointing out this wage stagnation for years; many people even used to argue with me about whether it was real or not. Perhaps in another decade, the US Census Bureau will also admit that these declining wages are the result of a) 2x more women in the post-1950 workforce, and, b) post-1965 immigration:

The real median income of American men who work full-time, year-round peaked forty years ago in 1973, according to data published by the U.S. Census Bureau. In 1973, median earnings for men who worked full-time, year-round were $51,670 in inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars. The median earnings of men who work full-time year-round have never been that high again.

In 2012, the latest year for which the Census Bureau has published an estimate, the real median earnings of men who worked full-time, year-round was $49,398. That was $2,272—or about 4.4 percent—below the peak median earnings of $51,670 in 1973.

Why 1973? Two reasons. The consequences of the 1965 change to immigration law was beginning to take effect and it marked the year that the number of old men leaving the work force stopped balancing the number of young women entering the work force. Essentially, the system was structurally rebalanced to substitute inexpensive young women of child-bearing age in the work force for expensive old men of retirement age.

Which means that young women have been forgoing families so that they can be taxed to pay for old men sitting around collecting social security checks. It was a system structurally and mathematically doomed to eventual failure. When the financial and social security systems collapse, it will be important to remember that it was the encouragement and embrace of careers over marriage that was the necessary factor. Middle-class educated young women were not liberated, they were enticed to enchain themselves to feed the corporate mills in lieu of marriage.

Keep in mind, too, that this only accounts for men who work full-time. If the nonexistent wages of the additional men no longer in the labor force were included in the calculation, the comparison would look even worse. Perhaps one of these days I will bother to work out the numbers, but off-hand, I’d estimate that the 4.4 percent decline from peak median earnings would increase to about 15 percent on the basis of the 10-point decline in the 40-year male employment-to-population ratio.

Women can get as upset as they like about how they should have the right to choose what they want to do and so forth. That doesn’t change the facts. It doesn’t change the math. And it won’t undo the incredible societal damage that has been done by four decades of lowering working men’s wages and producing too few children.