Not your father’s American Dream

Marketplace Staff May 25, 2007


BOB MOON: It’s getting harder to realize the American Dream. A new study finds the gap widening between our productivity and our salaries. As Jeremy Hobson explains, on average, we’re doing more and making less.

JEREMY HOBSON: Here are the grim facts: Between 1974 and 2004, adjusted for inflation, the median income for an American man in his 30s dropped 12 percent. In other words, you might be making less than your dad did.

JOHN MORTON: It’s a fairly striking picture.

John Morton with the Pew Charitable Trusts co-authored the study with experts from a bi-partisan group of research institutes. He says when it comes to families, income grew during that period, but by a much smaller margin than in the past.

MORTON: From 1947 to 1974, you see productivity and family income growth moving lock step together. When you get to the year 2000 just thereabouts, you see an explosion in the divergence between those two growth rates.

In other words, productivity goes up, income goes down. Morton says the report challenges the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats.

In Washington, I’m Jeremy Hobson for Marketplace.

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