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It's no surprise to anyone who has been paying even cursory attention that the U.S. economy has for quite some time been slipping in regards to middle-class Americans. While there are many factors involved in why this isn't being redressed, one of them is that too many people view the middle class as standing outside the working class and therefore not in need of working-class solutions, like, for example, strong unions.

The chart above, created by Doug Short, illustrates graphically a key effect of how the economy is failing to provide the kind of remuneration a large percentage of Americans in the private sector were receiving not so long ago. The numbers come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which has been collecting these data for the past 50 years.

If you look at nominal dollars, average hourly earnings have been on a steady climb for the entire period. But once inflation is accounted for, it's not a pretty picture.

Short points out that there's another ugly trend: the average hours of work per week. These declined from around 39 hours in the mid-1960s to 33 hours when the Great Recession officially ended five years ago. "The post-recession recovery has seen a disappointingly trivial 0.7 bounce (that's 42 minutes)," he writes.

Jump below the fold for more charts and discussion.

hours of non-supervisory workers
Mesh these two together and you get a third chart: "Hypothetical Real Weekly Earnings." In other words, it's what a worker earning the average wage per hour and working the average number of hours per week would earn weekly:
Results? The hypothetical annual earnings of the average non-supervisory production work are $35,497. That's down 16.4 percent from 42 years ago. Short says:
In the charts above, I've highlighted the presidencies during this timeframe. My purpose is not necessarily to suggest political responsibility, but rather to offer some food for thought. I will point out that the so-called supply-side economics popularized during the Reagan administration (aka "trickle-down" economics), wasn't very friendly to production and nonsupervisory employees.
No kidding.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Fri Jun 20, 2014 at 12:38 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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