(Chart from TalkingPointsMemo via David Frum)
This chart almost says it all. Americans who earn their money from wages and salaries have always seen their share of the national income fall off in recessions when compared with the share obtained through capital gains, rents and corporate profits. Until 1980, however, workers always regained something close to their previous share when each recession ended. After the 1980-82 double-dip recession, that share fell to a lower plateau.
But after the 2001 and 2007-2009 recessions officially ended, workers' share of national income did not recover but continued a downward spiral. It is now at the lowest level it has been since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping records 64 years ago.
As Aaron Wiener asks: "Has the economy changed in a fundamental way that will prevent workers from enjoying the benefits of the current incipient recovery?" In other words, is this a blip or yet another alarming new trend in the fortunes of rank-and-file Americans?