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Families & Community

It's not just you. New data confirms economic recovery not reaching most families

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The release of new economic data is about as exciting as spam email.

The New York Times Upshot blog makes the case that the newest set of data is something to spend some real time with, so here we go:

The Federal Reserve interviews thousands of families about their finances and releases a report every three years. The data gives a picture of how much people are making, how much they can do with that money, and what else is going on that leads them to be financially secure or struggling.

There is more bad news than good from this newest round of interviews.

The basic takeaway is that those who make less than $122,000 a year have had their incomes fall, as a group, over the last few years. People who make more than that, and especially those who make more than $230,000, have had their incomes go up. 

The key as to why this is happening, writes Niel Irwin in the Upshot, is that wages are down but investments are up. So the more you depend on your job for your money, instead of say, stocks, the more likely you are to have been missed by this most recent economic recovery. 

The data in Michigan bears out how hard our state has been hit by this reality.

Not much of the job growth here has been in high-wage work, and wages have fallen more in Michigan than in any other Great Lakes state over the past couple decades. A new report by the Michigan League for Public Policy also makes the point that even among those who aren't doing as well, there are winners and losers.

Women have been particularly missed by economic recovery. The lack of economic health among women means childhood poverty is unlikely to be anything but stuck until that changes. Right now, about one in four kids lives in poverty. 

We are now solidly into election season, and political rhetoric about the economy will only increase in the next few months. It's worth really digging into reports like these to think critically about the claims and policy proposals we're likely to see. 

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