(Courtesy of the Brookings Institution.)
Shapiro studied how household incomes grew from the Reagan administration through the first term of Obama using new data on household income by age from the U.S. Census Bureau. He found that household incomes experienced a sharp drop in growth between the 1980s and 1990s and the start of the 21st century.
During the Reagan and Clinton presidencies, households of virtually every type experienced large, steady income gains. It made little difference if the households were led by men or women, by blacks, whites or Hispanics, or by people with high school diplomas or college degrees. "Income inequality was increasing in the 1980s and 1990s, but it didn't matter because everyone's incomes were growing fast," Shapiro said.
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The 21st century was not so kind. Most household incomes stagnated or declined through nine years of economic expansion and two years of recession between 2002 and 2013. Only two types of households achieved gains in that period—ones headed by college graduates and those led by people in their 20s. But their gains were much smaller than those experienced by young and college-educated households in the 1980s and 1990s.
The boom in information technology, which meant businesses required a more educated workforce, as well as increased competition from a globalized economy, contributed to flagging household incomes in the 2000s, Shapiro said.
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