Letter: Fact-checking PolitiFact

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Fact-checking PolitiFact

The PolitiFact column headlined “Pelosi’s talking point on wages falls short of the truth” (Monitor Forum, Dec. 15), Louis Jacobson misses the larger point: While overall wages for the average worker have risen marginally in 2017, those in the upper income brackets have seen significantly bigger increases than those in the lower-middle income brackets.

Federal government data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute show that wages for the first half of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016, rose a little more than 1 percent for those in the 30th through 50th percentiles, versus about 3 percent for those in the 90th percentile. For 2007-2017, the corresponding percentage increases were less than 2 percent versus more than 11 percent. This is a continuation of trends occurring since the late 1970s.

EPI concludes: “What the trend in wages over the last year means is that most workers are just beginning to make up for lost ground rather than getting ahead. Rising wage inequality continues to be a defining feature of the American economy.”

Although Nancy Pelosi’s reference to stagnant wages may have been imprecise, it points to the fact of long-standing and growing income inequality. Under the Republicans’ proposed tax reform package, with most of the benefits going to affluent Americans, it is hard to see how income inequality will not be made even worse.