Green Room

Chart of the Day: Median income in DC vs the rest of us

posted at 11:56 am on September 21, 2013 by

Guess where stagnation isn’t a big problem?  If you guessed Washington DC, well, burnish up your resume and head east, young man or woman. There’s gold in them thar Capitol Hill and its environs. At least, that’s what the Federal Reserve of St. Louis reports:

fred-dc-usa-medianincome

I apologize in advance — someone flagged this for me earlier in the week, and now I can’t remember who.

From the mid-1980s to around 2007, the median household income rise in DC remained pretty closely linked to that of the nation as a whole.  Anyone remember what happened in 2007, besides the economic slowdown that would turn into the Great Recession?  Democrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since.  And at least according to the Fed, that disparity is actually accelerating,  at least to 2012, with DC median income skyrocketing while the rest of us stagnate.

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The result of having a nation of elites and Population Units.*

Guess who we are.

*My new term for those of us who used to be Citizens with the sovereignty of the nation when it was the United States of America. Now it’s just America and we are Black males with some college, Asian women, over 65 white males etc. Just Population units of no real value and deserving no respect.

FOWG1 on September 21, 2013 at 12:21 PM

And let’s not forget: the DC area has such a high median income even with all the dreadful poverty in that town. You know, all those poor people who would be helped by jobs at Wal-Mart if the liberals in the District would stop trying to keep Wal-Mart out.

radjah shelduck on September 21, 2013 at 12:23 PM

Well, the lords and ladies deserve to live a step above the peasants. That’s just a perk of nobility.

Jeddite on September 21, 2013 at 12:27 PM

Time for the hunger games to begin.

Imrahil on September 21, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Although, interestingly, the income gap didn’t really widen until 2011-12 (hard to tell from the chart) when federal pending had leveled off, and it zig-agged during the recession, when federal spending jumped dramatically. In addition, most of the jump in spending was for stimulus projects outside DC, defense and things like food stamps and TANF. Actual spending for civilian agencies — agencies that employ local DC workers — has been squeezed.

Also, in a two-tier recession, where college graduates are half as likely to be unemployed as high school grads and people with graduate degrees a quarter as likely, DC, which has one of highest educated workforces in the country, is going to do well, regardless of federal spending.

We’re going to need a more nuanced explanation than “Democrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since,” since that’s not actually the case.

07: $2.7 trillion

08: $3.0
09: $3.5
10: $3.5
11: $3.6
12: $3.5
13: $3.7

And let’s not forget: the DC area has such a high median income even with all the dreadful poverty in that town. You know, all those poor people who would be helped by jobs at Wal-Mart if the liberals in the District would stop trying to keep Wal-Mart out.

radjah shelduck on September 21, 2013 at 12:23 PM

It is a dreadful poverty rate. You should note, however, that the sharecropper wages paid by Wal-Mart won’t lift people out of poverty, and that the liberal (and black) mayor of Washington vetoed the legislation.

So what are you guys having for dinner? My fellow Washingtonians and I are thinking of Kobe beef and a decent Bordeaux. Maybe an ’01 Ducru Beaucaillou?

(If you really want to know why incomes are up, it’s the security industrial complex and the increasingly for-sale nature of Congress, both of which have bipartisan support. You want to slash at those, I’ll join you.)

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

You should note, however, that the sharecropper wages paid by Wal-Mart won’t lift people out of poverty …

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

A perfect example of what Thomas Sowell calls “Stage One Thinking.”

It could be properly viewed as a good first step toward lifting people out of poverty, but then you undoubtedly prefer that they remain wards of — and fully dependent upon — the state …

ShainS on September 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

The result of having a nation of elites and Population Units.*

Guess who we are.

*My new term for those of us who used to be Citizens with the sovereignty of the nation when it was the United States of America.

Geez – we aren’t even “population units” anymore… We’re “Tax Revenue Generation Units” or “Government “Investment” Consumption Units”.

TRGUs and G”I”CUs.

DrDeano on September 21, 2013 at 2:01 PM

A perfect example of what Thomas Sowell calls “Stage One Thinking.”

It could be properly viewed as a good first step toward lifting people out of poverty, but then you undoubtedly prefer that they remain wards of — and fully dependent upon — the state …

ShainS on September 21, 2013 at 1:31 PM

And yet, with all those people working for all those Wal-Marts, we haven’t seen the emergence of a vast Wal-Mart-prepped middle class.

I, by the way, did not support the “living wage” bill.

And given the taxes I pay, I am not keen dependency. Nor am I keen on corporations who pay so little that their employees are food stamp-dependent and who cut back hours so as not to provide health care, thus dumping their employees on my insurance tab.

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Now you know why the beltway media went all in for Obama $$$$.

OxyCon on September 21, 2013 at 2:50 PM

What was it, again, that Maryland does better than Texas? Oh yeah. Give up its land to create a federal district so that it can suck up other people’s $$$.

besser tot als rot on September 21, 2013 at 3:17 PM

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Mr. Urban Elitist Sir,
Now I’m certainly not as bright as you, seeing as how I’m just a doctor/peasant here in rural Texas. But it seems to me that you bright types migrate to where the pickens are real good. I guess that would be D.C. And it seems to me that the pickens are real good in D.C. for a reason. And that reason might be that our federal government has ensconced itself as a pig trough not only for welfare queens, but also for urban elitists like yourself. And if you were not sucking from that trough you might agree that living off other people’s money is not very becoming.

NOMOBO on September 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

Our ruling class will be ‘requiring more revenue’, no doubt. Enjoy your time at the trough, Urban Elitist, sooner or later the rent comes due.

ghostwalker1 on September 21, 2013 at 3:46 PM

NOMOBO on September 21, 2013 at 3:32 PM

My Good Doctor:

I hesitate to disagree with one who has mastered a challenging and learned profession, one for which I have so much respect.

There is no question that folks – bright or otherwise, and there are many here who would tell you that I am “otherwise” — do migrate,Willie Sutton-like — to where the money is. You might be surprised to learn, however, how modest the money is in government service compared to what a bright type might make in San Jose, New York or Houston. Personally, I’ve been on the public payroll a couple of times in the last 25 years (though never in a protected civil service job) and the money paid by the private sector is always better.

More to the point, I see no shame in public sector work, which consists largely of jobs that need to be done, whether we like it (air traffic control) or not (tax collection). The war on civil servants consists largely of slandering people who work as hard and earnestly — generally speaking — as do private sector employees. And, indeed, often come to their jobs because of a commendable passion for progress.

Given the billions of dollars that flow to the medical profession through federal programs, and the benefits to that profession from government programs — from funding medical research to ensuring drug safety — I suggest you poll your own profession on the comity of taking tax dollars. And that, next time you see Medicare or Medicaid patients in you your practice or just ringing you up at the Wal-Mart, you consider how these folks would fare without federal programs.

Cheers. And what’s your opinion on the salt/high blood pressure relationship?

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 4:01 PM

(If you really want to know why incomes are up, it’s the security industrial complex and the increasingly for-sale nature of Congress, both of which have bipartisan support. You want to slash at those, I’ll join you.)

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

…go ahead!

KOOLAID2 on September 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

(If you really want to know why incomes are up, it’s the security industrial complex and the increasingly for-sale nature of Congress, both of which have bipartisan support. You want to slash at those, I’ll join you.)

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

…go ahead!

KOOLAID2 on September 21, 2013 at 4:22 PM

Of course, as a DC resident I have no power to vote Congresspeople who put themselves in lobbyists’ vest pockets, but I do support organizations working against the Security-industrial complex.

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Shouldn’t this post be entitled: “Chart of the Decade” ?

OneArmPaperHanger on September 21, 2013 at 6:27 PM

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 4:01 PM

I was not referring to those in public service, although I might disagree with you concerning the paucity of civil service wages. The big money in D.C. belongs to those seeking a piece of the unwieldy power administered by those civil servants. This is made possible by the obscene amount of money and power we seem to have bestowed on those in the public sector in the process of making our government so large. Reduce the public sector’s money and power, and then watch D.C.’s median income come more into line with the rest of the country’s.

NOMOBO on September 21, 2013 at 6:34 PM

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

….you’re a Complete, Pluperfect, IDIOT!…..

williamg on September 21, 2013 at 6:42 PM

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

…..oh – you’re not “joiningANYONE…..EVER!!

williamg on September 21, 2013 at 6:43 PM

Median income is a bit of an odd metric, as it doesn’t capture the depth of poverty or the height of wealth. However, in this case, I’d wager that it is capturing the increase in the level of mid to low level bureaucrat and support staff for all of the lobbying groups, plus a smattering of small business owners and skilled service workers catering to demands of all the new wealth in town.

Count to 10 on September 21, 2013 at 7:50 PM

This is what class warfare looks like. Clearly, the government class is winning.

p0s3r on September 21, 2013 at 7:56 PM

(If you really want to know why incomes are up, it’s the security industrial complex and the increasingly for-sale nature of Congress, both of which have bipartisan support. You want to slash at those, I’ll join you.)

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

Congress has always been for sale, and security is such a minor part of the budget as to be irrelevant. The real issue is simply the amount of regulation and general money-channeling that has exploded since the Democrats gained power (including the period of time before they had congress when they could hold national security hostage to their domestic agenda). It’s really only bipartisan in the sense that any deal is.

Count to 10 on September 21, 2013 at 7:57 PM

There is probably also a bit of a lag effect, since the people in the median income bracket don’t get hired/raises/more business until well after the prime movers are already there.

Count to 10 on September 21, 2013 at 8:01 PM

More to the point, I see no shame in public sector work, which consists largely of jobs that need to be done, whether we like it (air traffic control) or not (tax collection).

Most public sector jobs today didn’t exist 40 years ago. When I was in grade school there were only 8 cabinet level agencies. So how did we ever get along without all those public employees? I know, every public employee is a selfless saint, never once concerned with their benefits or pensions.

The war on civil servants consists largely of slandering people who work as hard and earnestly — generally speaking — as do private sector employees.

I almost never get even minimal customer service from public employees.

They act imperiously and rudely to the public and their labor unions corrupt the political process. They are virtually unaccountable and routinely use government processes to give themselves preferential treatment.

My aunt is a retired administrative law judge for the Social Security system. She was asked to audit another judge who was rated as “minimally acceptable”. He was processing 17 cases a month. She came in and did 40. When she asked him why he was doing so little work, he said he had two more years to go to retirement and he was going to do the minimal amount of work necessary to get by.

I wonder where in the private sector there is such a thing as “minimally acceptable”? Only government employees would make mediocrity a benchmark for quality work.

And, indeed, often come to their jobs because of a commendable passion for progress.

Ah, progress. As in progressive. They take government jobs so they can politicize the bureaucracy. You said it, not me.

rokemronnie on September 21, 2013 at 8:27 PM

2007: The Rent Seekers found a more receptive batch of Rent Granters.

Another Drew on September 22, 2013 at 8:02 AM

2007: The Rent Seekers found a more receptive batch of Rent Granters.

Another Drew on September 22, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Clearly you have no understanding of where, say, oil industry and wall street money goes.

urban elitist on September 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

You should note, however, that the sharecropper wages paid by Wal-Mart won’t lift people out of poverty …

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

And government dependence does? How does prohibiting individuals from voluntarily trading their labor without interference from the government help anyone? But that’s what DC is all about. The self-anointed lavishing themselves with confiscated money while micro-managing the lives of others, with autocrats denying liberties they claim for themselves. The torches and pitchforks are coming, and it’s going to be awesome.

RadClown on September 22, 2013 at 12:05 PM

And yet, with all those people working for all those Wal-Marts, we haven’t seen the emergence of a vast Wal-Mart-prepped middle class.

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Really? Do you even know what to look for in order to find one? Because I see them all around me – people who have gotten a low-wage job to start out, then moved up in the world.

Nor am I keen on corporations who pay so little that their employees are food stamp-dependent

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Hmmm, why would that be? Maybe because the leftists … er, pardon me, the elitists in DC keep re-defining poverty upward. Most of those folks are not food-stamp dependent.

and who cut back hours so as not to provide health care, thus dumping their employees on my insurance tab.

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 2:46 PM

Oh, why would it be they are cutting back on those hours? Because of the elitists in Washington writing a law that incentivises exactly that! Why should those companies provide “health care”? Back to those elitists, who originally provided an incentive to employers to do so. Now they are providing a disincentive. You’ll have to get your fellow elitists to figure out what you really want the end result to be. Of course, neither of those outcomes are the result I would like to see: freedom and responsibility.

GWB on September 22, 2013 at 1:19 PM

Clearly you have no understanding of where, say, oil industry and wall street money goes.

urban elitist on September 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Shareholders. And since those industries tend to be the most stable, even when governed by those who are unstable, they tend to be heavily invested in by public-sector retirement accounts. So tell me, why do you wish to destroy the retirements of police, firefighters and teachers across the country?

dominigan on September 23, 2013 at 9:49 AM

You should note, however, that the sharecropper wages paid by Wal-Mart won’t lift people out of poverty …

urban elitist on September 21, 2013 at 1:20 PM

They’re not supposed to. Wal-Mart provides entry level jobs that provide experience that can be used to move further up the chain, whether that’s management or at another company.

Only a D.C. parasite would think that it’s a company’s job to lift people out of poverty, and turn around and bad mouth it for providing the starting career experience that’s needed to start climbing the ladder of success.

dominigan on September 23, 2013 at 9:52 AM

We’re going to need a more nuanced explanation than “Democrats took control of Congress and federal spending shot upward ever since,” since that’s not actually the case.

07: $2.7 trillion
08: $3.0
09: $3.5
10: $3.5
11: $3.6
12: $3.5
13: $3.7

Ummm… a permanent increase of 1 TRILLION dollars to a total of less than 3 trillion dollars seems to me a pretty good definition of “shot upward”.

Or, are you arguing that since they aren’t accelerating the rate at which they increased the budget, it’s not a “shot upward”. After all, we’re not increasing it by that much NOW. (Of course, we still have the point that the government is spending 37% more than when Democrats took the house in 2007 while the economy went from $12.6T to $14.9T and 18% increase… Sure looks like that would be a good definition of “shot upwards.”)

makattak on September 23, 2013 at 11:23 AM