A series of 13 charts, EPI’s Top charts of 2016 outlines how the economy treated average Americans in 2016—from wages and inequality, to manufacturing, overtime, and economic growth. The charts make it clear that, despite more than seven years of steady recovery from the Great Recession, the U.S. economy is still not working as well as it should for working people.
“These charts show the gap between the way the economy is and the way it could be,” said EPI Research and Policy Director Josh Bivens. “They make it clear that going forward policymakers have a couple of huge jobs: locking in genuine full employment and shifting economic leverage and bargaining power from corporate owners and managers to typical workers.”
The U.S. economy has failed to deliver the goods to the vast majority of American families for far too many years in recent decades. In the context of the 2016 presidential campaign, this economic failure was often characterized as being unique to white working-class voters in the upper Midwest. But income growth has been sluggish, and hourly wage growth near zero, for low- and middle-income families across the board for decades now.
As EPI’s top charts of 2016 show, the economy has generated enough income in recent decades to deliver very substantial wage gains for all workers—men and women, people of color and whites. Indeed, the economy has the capacity to provide not just decent wages but labor protections that support strong families and policies that provide security in retirement. But this potential has been squandered by policymakers. A near-constant assault on workers’ economic leverage and bargaining power that began in the late 1970s, combined with the economic catastrophe of the Great Recession, has led to a lost generation of income growth for the vast majority.
EPI’s top charts of 2016 are interactive, embeddable, and can be automatically shared to Facebook and Twitter.