A just-released report finds the median income of American households has dropped 4.1 percent since the end of the recession, almost exactly as much as it decreased during the recession itself.


The Pew Research Center report titled "Recovery No Better than the Recession, Median Household Income 2007 to 2011," finds during the Great recession years, 2007 to 2009, household income dipped 4.2 percent, and the current "recovery" is the most negative for household income during any post-recession period in the past four decades.

U.S. Census Bureau data for New Jersey shows median household income in the Garden State dropped 2.7 percent from 2009 to 2010, from $69,569 to $67,681 - and some experts think a similar decrease will be reported soon for 2011.

Rutgers economist James Hughes says, "Historically deep financial crises have been followed by painfully long and slow recovery periods. Household incomes have kept declining, even though the economy supposedly is in recovery, and that suggests how deep a hole most households in America find themselves in today."

He says, "When you have economic bubbles bursting like we had in 2008, the consequences are very, very painful. We have an economy that's not generating enough jobs. For many people, their unemployment benefits have run out, and so we find that household incomes have continued to decline since the recession ended."

Hughes adds the actions by the Federal Reserve last week, "of buying up mortgages, and entering into a new phase of quantitative easing, is an attempt to stimulate job growth by making borrowing much cheaper. However, that's not going to be sufficient in and of itself. We really do need probably direct stimulus from Washington itself, but we're in gridlock in Washington…So nothing is going to happen till after the election, if then."

He points out, "We've just recovered about half the jobs lost during the recession, and that's the biggest job loss since the Great Depression…This is extremely painful for New Jersey families, as they keep seeing their incomes decline. We are also an extraordinarily expensive place to live and those expenses are growing, so it really puts a squeeze on the middle class in New Jersey."