A Liberal Look at Census Income Numbers

Rick Lyman sees "growing evidence of a deepening divide between rich and poor." But economic disparity was higher in 1999, during the Clinton administration.

Wednesday's off-lead by Rick Lyman, "Census Reports Slight Increase In '05 Incomes - More Work Is Seen, Not Bigger Paychecks," doesn't contain direct Bush-bashing or coddling of the economic record of the Clinton administration.

Still, liberal assumptions abound from the get-go: "The nation's median household income rose slightly faster than inflation last year for the first time in six years, the Census Bureau reported yesterday.

"The rise, however, had little to do with bigger paychecks - in fact, both men and women earned less in 2005 than 2004. Rather, census officials said, more family members were taking jobs to make ends meet, and some people made more money from investments and other sources beyond wages.

"The glimmer of improvement came after years in which the economy slogged through the bursting of the 1990's stock market boom, a brief economic downturn, the aftershocks from the 2001 terrorist attacks, a series of corporate scandals and growing evidence of a deepening divide between rich and poor.

"While the economy has been strong by most statistical measures for the past several years, its benefits have not translated into improvements in the standard of living for many people."

Lyman's chronology implies the "deepening divide between rich and poor" started during the Bush administration. But the 21st paragraph casually mentions that, by the way, according to one measure, income inequality has actually declined since the Clinton years: "In fact, the Queens College study found that - at least between the two years studied, 1999 and 2005 - there was less economic disparity across the country. In 1999, at the height of the dot-com bubble, those in the top 20 percent in income made 19 times more than those in the bottom 20 percent, while in 2005 that gap had fallen to 14.8 times as much."