04/09/2008 - How has the United States economy gotten to this point?
It’s not just the apparent recession. Recessions happen. If you tried to build an economy immune to the human emotions that produce boom and bust, you would end up with something that looked like East Germany.
The bigger problem is that the now-finished boom was, for most Americans, nothing of the sort. In 2000, at the end of the previous economic expansion, the median American family made about $61,000, according to the Census Bureau’s inflation-adjusted numbers. In 2007, in what looks to have been the final year of the most recent expansion, the median family, amazingly, seems to have made less — about $60,500.
More than anything else — more than even the war in Iraq — the stagnation of the great American middle-class machine explains the glum national mood today. As part of a poll that will be released Wednesday, the Pew Research Center asked people how they had done over the last five years. During that time, remember, the overall economy grew every year, often at a good pace.
Read the full article For Many, a Boom That Wasn’t on The New York Times Web site.