Monday, June 13, 2005

Businessweek on upward mobility

In contrast to Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong's shrill fact challenged hysterics on the demise of the middle class, Businessweek has a good commentary on recent gains for all Americans.

Here's what we do know: Over the past decade, virtually every traditionally disadvantaged group made gains in absolute terms. Take, for example, families headed by immigrants who entered the country in the 1980s. The poverty rate for such families dropped sharply, from 26.6% in 1995 to 16.4% in 2003, the latest numbers available. Similarly, a combination of welfare reform and tight labor markets helped drive down the poverty rate for female-headed households with children from 46.1% in 1993 to 35.5% in 2003. That may not seem like much, but it beats the total lack of progress in the previous decade. And a new book, Moving Up or Moving On: Who Advances in the Low-Wage Labor Market?, uses a new set of data to look at the wage history of a group of low-earning workers from 1993 to 2001. Adjusted for inflation, those people saw their average earnings more than double over those nine years.