A year ago, President Obama introduced the American Jobs Act. The fact that Congress was unwilling to approve these jobs measures is one reason middle class families continue to struggle and why the growth that we are generating is doing an end run around them. In fact, if you think back to 2011, instead of debating jobs measures that could have helped middle class and low-income workers, what was Congress fighting about? Whether or not to default on the national debt. And now there's the specter of the fiscal cliff, another potential self-inflicted wound to an economy that needs a shot in the arm not a punch in the head.
"The myth of the disappearing middle class" is a canard. Indeed, most living standards analysts think of the middle class as some chunk in the middle of the income distribution -- say the middle fifth or some variation therein -- which of course cannot by definition "disappear." I've been writing about middle class economics for decades and not once did I or my colleagues argue "disappearance." However, we did, and do, argue that the wage and income growth of middle class workers and families has weakened over time -- that the middle class has become increasingly squeezed. To understand the middle class squeeze, you've got to look at wages and hours.