Real Wages for the Reality-Based Community Which Does Not Include David Brooks

David Brooks entitles his latest spin A Reality-Based Economy and opens with:

The neopopulist story line about skyrocketing inequality and the tides of globalization is incredibly simple-minded.

While I’ve seen many folks smarter than me on this issue say that inequality is rising but none have used the word skyrocketing. And I’m not sure what tides of globalization even means. But the real problem with this spin – as pointed out by Dean Baker – is how much misinformation Brooks has to use to write his 750 word piece of nonsense. Let’s take my favorite:

Brooks says “after a lag, average wages are rising sharply. Real average wages rose by 2 percent in 2006, the second fastest rise in 30 years.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the average hourly wage is 1.2 percent higher than its year ago level and still below its December 2002 level. That’s almost five years of zero growth. In the late 90s, real wages were growing 1.6 percent annually.

The skyrocketing real wage canard seems to have become a favorite among the rightwing. Since I’ve been looking for some excuse to update a graph of real wages among production and nonsupervisory workers, Dean’s correction of this latest spin from David Brooks is a great opportunity. Our graph doesn’t show a lag but rather a decline. The latest increase in real wages – as measured from June 2006 to June 2007 – is only 1.2% as Dean suggests. OK – if one measures this from January 2006 to January 2007, you get a higher increase. I guess David Brooks has been asleep for five months. Now if he had said – we have had a five-year lag in real wage growth, his op-ed would be more factually correct. But then admitting this reality undermines the main theme of what he wrote. Then again – what David Brooks usually writes is completely divorced from reality.