A chart accompanying a writeup by Robert Pear at the New York Times on how Americans' real incomes have fallen and barely begun to recover is interesting in its selection of comparison points.
Pear himself tried to pretend that what President Obama wants to do to try to make college more affordable is somehow relevant to reigniting economic growth. Really.
First, let's look at the graphic and its accompanying text, with a bit of visual improvement added by yours truly:
The underlying data originates from work done by Sentier Research, a firm of former Census Bureau employees which has been tracking monthly income since 2000. The chart's description conveys some pretty bad news. But the Times's data point selection still masks the full ugliness of our current reality.
As seen in what I've added to the graph, the declines from other key timeframes have been more steep. My additions incldue the dashed lines indicating the months of Barack Obama's election and inauguration, and the rough values associated with those two months and January 2008, the month median income peaked).
Real median household income fell by 10.4 percent from the January 2008 peak to the August 2011 trough. It fell by 9.8 percent from Barack Obama's electoral victory to that trough, and by 9.0 percent from his inauguaration to that trough.
Real median household income in June 2013 was still 8.0 percent lower than the January 2008 peak, 7.3 percent lower than when Obama was elected, and 6.5 percent lower than when he was inaugurated.
Sentier's primary finding was that median income has fallen by 4.4 percent since the recession as officially defined ended four long years ago — a percentage the Times kept out of its graphic. Apparently the Old Gray Lady's peeps preferred to focus on a time period originating during the Bush 43 presidency. What a non-surprise.
Robert Pear, as seen in the following excerpt from his report, merely accepted an idea which has nothing to do with getting the economy going in the near-term as something relevant to doing just that:
The economy has been growing since 2009, but more slowly and inconsistently than many Americans would like and many economists and policy makers had predicted. President Obama has made the economy’s condition his main focus this summer, promising new efforts to encourage economic growth, including a series of proposals on higher education that he is expected to announce Thursday. While taking credit for some improvement in the economy, he has acknowledged that many Americans have yet to see the benefits.
A "series of proposals on higher education" all Obama has to "encourage economic growth"? Lord, are we in trouble.
Pear also "forgot" to note that the post-recession growth which has occurred is the lowest seen in any post-World War II downturn.
As to Pear's claims that Obama's "main focus" has been on the economy, please. His troops at Organizing for Action have spent the entire month of "Action August" on Obamacare, gun control, climate change, and immigration, and threw in a day or so of primarily blog-related focus on the economy before getting back to matters it seems to believe are more important. Who do you think you're kidding, Bob?
The Times itself considered the story so "important" that it ended up on Page A13 in Thursday's print edition.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.