• Not only is job creation weak, but wages have continued to stagnate since the Great Recession officially ended in mid-2009. Inflation-adjusted hourly earnings have fallen a bit in the past three years. That helps explain why another gauge, the real median household income, also went down last year, according to a Census Bureau survey released this month.
• Some 46 million Americans were officially in poverty last year, the Census survey found. That number was essentially unchanged for the year even as the job market improved. The US Labor Department estimates that some 10.5 million people as of 2010 were "working poor," living below the poverty line while spending at least 27 weeks working or seeking jobs.
• Another study has sought to quantify the share of employed people in the US who have "good jobs," and concludes that this share was falling even before the recession hit. The Center for Economic and Policy Research defined "good job" as one that pays at least $37,000 per year, has employer-provided health insurance, and has an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a pension or 401(k) plan. About 25 percent of US jobs fit that definition in 2010, down from 27.4 percent in 1979.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research is a liberal group, but the message of its study is salient for Americans of all political stripes. Republican voters care about health insurance and jobs, like Democrats do, although the two camps differ on how to boost US prosperity.