In the past 20 years, the US economy has grown nearly 60 percent. This huge increase in productivity is partly due to automation, the internet, and other improvements in efficiency. But it's also the result of Americans working harder—often without a big boost to their bottom lines.
Productivity has surged, but income and wages have stagnated for most Americans. If the median household income had kept pace with the economy since 1970, it would now be nearly $92,000, not $50,000.
The sectors that have contributed the most to the country's overall economic growth have lagged when it comes to creating jobs.
Increase in real value of the minimum wage since 1990: 21%
Increase in cost of living since 1990: 67%
One year's earnings at the minimum wage:$15,080
Income required for a single worker to have real economic security: $30,000
For Americans as a whole, the length of a typical workweek hasn't changed much in years. But for many middle-class workers, job obligations are creeping into free time and family time. For low-income workers, hours have declined due to a shrinking job market, causing underemployment.
Median yearly earnings of:
Union workers: $47,684
Non-union workers: $37,284