Misleading economic statistics obscure workers’ financial fragility

NewsFebruary 11, 2020

On the surface, it looks like it’s been a great decade for the American economy: The national unemployment rate dropped from about 10 percent to just under 4 percent; high-income workers saw their pay go up and, eventually, lower-income workers saw their wages rise as well.

So what’s not to like?

As Annie Lowrey observed in The Atlantic last week, an extraordinary rise in the cost of housing, childcare, education, and healthcare has significantly undercut these modest gains for the majority of Americans.

“Viewing the economy through a cost-of-living paradigm helps explain why roughly two in five American adults would struggle to come up with $400 in an emergency so many years after the Great Recession ended…despite all the wealth this country has generated, fully one in three households is classified as ‘financially fragile.’ ”

This is why NUHW members continue to push employers for truly livable wages, strong benefits, and genuinely affordable healthcare.

You can find Lowrey’s piece, “The Great Affordability Crisis Breaking America,” here.