White House Touts Economic Gains As Median Wealth Continues To Decline

Conn Carroll
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Posted: Dec 16, 2014 3:45 PM
White House Touts Economic Gains As Median Wealth Continues To Decline

White House Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Jason Furman dropped by the White House Daily Press Briefing today to tout President Obama's economic record.

"On nearly every economic measure, our economy is stronger today then it was the day President Obama took office," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest claimed while introducing Furman.

"The U.S. economic recovery took a major step forward in 2014," Furman continued. "This is the year in which we broke the record for the longest streak of private sector job growth, now 57 consecutive months and counting."

Pressed by CBS News' Major Garrett to explain why median incomes have not yet risen under the Obama recovery, Furman claimed that they did not rise under the Bush recovery either.

"We've had a challenge in this regard for decades," Furman said. "That challenge was particularly acute between 2001 and 2007 when we saw reasonably strong economic growth, but median incomes actually fell over the course of the expansion." 

But the Census data does not back Furman up. According to this Census web page, in constant 2013 dollars, the median U.S. income rose from $55,562 in 2001 to $56,436 in 2007. That may be a meager $874 rise, but it does beat the $2,120 drop in income from when Obama took office in 2009 ($54,059) to today ($51,939).

Furman, however, is optimistic. "The last Census numbers we have are from 2013. We haven't gotten the 2014 numbers, and I expect those to be considerably better. Unfortunately we will not get those until next August." 

Furman also did not mention the latest findings from Pew which show that median wealth is still falling in the United States, from $82,300 in 2010 to $81,400 today. This lost wealth during the Obama recovery has been particularly acute for black families who have seen their median wealth drop from $16,600 in 2010 to $11,000 today.