Leisure has increased under Bush-Cheney
At the risk of having some very good labor economist critique this, I’ll put forth a Leisure Index (LI) simply defined as the civilian employment to population ratio (R) times the average weekly hours – total private industries (H). When Bush took office R = 64.4% and H = 34.2. Over the past few months, R has been 62.2% and H has been 33.8. LI has therefore declined from 22.0 to 21.0.
LI is like the Kerry Middle-Class Misery Index (MCMI) in that a fall in LI means we have more leisure time just the fall in MCMI since Bush took office means Middle-Class Misery is higher. With an extra hour of time, a fellow could either sleep more, spend more time helping the kids with the math homework, go for longer runs to shed a few pounds (the wife likes that one), or even spend more time watching the Lakers win another NBA championship. But if the wife takes over the TV, I can always turn to Political Animal for Lakers updates as well as read his coverage of the various and sundry messes surrounding our invasion of Iraq.
Of course, a good labor economist would point out that the 5% reduction in labor hours per adult exceeds the modest increases in real wages, which means those who rely on labor income may have suffered a decline in real before-tax income. And if Bush-Cheney touts its tax cut, recall the recent analysis from CBPP that when deferred tax liabilities are factored in, workers may be facing a tax rate increase around 2% of their income. As Karsten reminded us of the Reagan question as to whether you are better off now versus four years ago, I guess those who derive a lot of capital income can say yes as their before-tax income has risen and their tax liabilities are lower. But for the workers in Southern California, enjoy watching the Lakers win game 1 this weekend (with all due apologies to Piston fans in Detroit).