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Scott Winship @swinshi
, 18 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
.@AndrewCherlin is the latest to argue that economics is at least as important as culture in explaining Trumpism, saying that “The economic distress of the white working class has been building since the 1970s.” /1…
These kinds of statements are too rarely backed up by stats, so here are some hourly wage trends by race and sex. These are for the 20th percentile—the worker (within race and sex) that is poorer than 80% of workers—and the median. /2
Theyre from @EconomicPolicy…* . I’ve changed the price adjustment so that it uses PCE deflator, which is definitely better than CPI-U-RS that EPI uses. But relative comparisons by race/sex arent affected, since they all use the same adjustment. /3
Hourly wage growth at 20th percentile, 1973-2017: non-Hispanic white men—7% increase, black men—7%, Hispanic men 11%, non-Hispanic white women—38%, black women—35%, Hispanic women—31% /4
Hourly wage growth at the median, 1973-2017: non-Hispanic white men—19% increase, black men—4%, Hispanic men 10%, non-Hispanic white women—57%, black women—44%, Hispanic women—32% /5
Now, men havent seen big increases. But there are no declines. White working class women have seen sizable gains. Nor do non-Hispanic white men do worse than black men or (more or less) Hispanic men. White and Hisp men were at all-time highs in '17, but black men peaked in '09 /6
So while the pace of growth has slowed for the white working class, while women of all backgrounds have seen faster growth than the white male working class, and while the top has seen much stronger wage growth, the white working class is richer than it has ever been. /7
Which makes it difficult to think that “economic distress” is behind Trumpism. /8
Maybe you think those wage figures mask rising LF dropout, since nonworkers dont earn a wage? Well, median personal income growth was 12% for non-Hisp white men 1976-2016, 23% for black men, 4% for Hisp men. /9…
LFP among men 25-54 fell from 95% in December of 1978 to 89% in January of this year for non-Hispanic white men, but it fell from 89% to 82% among black men (and fell by 1 point for Hispanic men). /10
Note that that decline may have been supply driven rather than demand driven, since difficulty finding a job explains very little of the secular fall in LFP participation, as I’ve shown. /11…
You may think that economic life has become riskier despite these facts. Not by much, if at all /11…
Conventional wisdom shouldnt substitute for quantitative evidence when people claim that economic distress is behind populism and Trumpism. No hand-waving about “good union jobs” having disappeared—wages have still grown despite the drop in unionization. /12
The white working class is doing better than ever. That doesn’t mean policies can’t expand their opportunities or further improve their living standards, but we shouldn’t think that those policies will affect Trumpism. Which is why the debate over economics & culture matters /fin
Thread got screwed up. Here's #12
And #13
And, last, #14
Addendum: the personal income figures I cite are for men 35-44. Controls for changing age distribution. Wage figures are for all men/women workers regardless of age. Thx @NickWolfinger
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