Millennials Have Caught Up to Boomers: Generational Wealth Update (2022q2)

Last week I wrote about wealth growth during the pandemic, but my favorite way to look at wealth data is comparing different generations. Last September I wrote a post comparing Boomers, Gen Xers, and Millennials in wealth per capita at roughly the same age. At the time, Millennials were basically equal to Gen X at the same age, and we were a year short of having comparable data with Boomers.

What does it look like if we update the chart through the second quarter of this year?

I won’t explain all of the data in detail — for that see my post from last September. I’ll just note a few changes. We now have single-year population estimates for 2020 and 2021, so I’ve updated those to the most recent Census estimates for each cohort. Inflation adjustments are to June 2022, to match the end of the most recent quarter of data from the Fed DFA. We still have to use average wealth rather than median wealth for now, but the Fed SCF is currently in progress so at some point we’ll have 2022 median data (most recent currently is 2019, and there’s been a lot of wealth growth since then).

What do we notice in the chart? First, we now have one year of overlap between Boomers and Millennials. And it turns out… they are pretty much at the same level per capita! Millennials have also now fallen slightly behind Gen X at the same time, since they’ve had no wealth growth (in real, per capita terms) since the end of 2021 to the present.

But Millennials have fared much better in 2022 with the massive drop in wealth: about $6.6 trillion in total wealth in the US was lost (in nominal terms) from the first to the second quarter of 2022. None of that wealth loss was among Millennials, instead it was roughly evenly shared among the three older generations (Boomers hid hardest). This difference is largely because Millennials hold more assets in real estate (which went up) than in equities (which went way down). The other generations have much more exposure to the stock market at this point in their life.

You can clearly see that affect of the 2022 wealth decline if you look at the end of the line for Gen X. You can’t see the effect on Boomers, since I cut off the chart after the last Gen X comparable data, but they saw a big decline since 2021 as well: about 6% per capita, along with 7% for Gen X. Even so, Gen X is still about 18% wealthier on average than Boomers were at the same age.

Of course, even since the end of the second quarter of 2022, we’ve seen further declines in the stock market, with the S&P 500 down about 4%. And who knows what the next few months and quarters will bring. But as of right now, Millennials don’t seem to be doing much worse than their counterparts in other generations at the same age.

Patrick Henry Blog

I wrote about Patrick Henry for OLL this week.

Can [the President] not at the head of his army beat down every opposition? Away with your President, we shall have a King: The army will salute him Monarch; your militia will leave you and assist in making him King, and fight against you: And what have you to oppose this force? What will then become of you and your rights? Will not absolute despotism ensue?” It is noted in the manuscript that the stenographer could not keep up with the torrent of terrible possible consequences that Henry was shouting about concerning a chief executive.

Most of his apocalyptic scenarios have not happened … yet. What inspired me in his speech was his energy more than his arguments. As much as he praised the American spirit of the past that ousted British rule, he was not complacent. He models a kind of patriotism that embraces an American project without holding to any fantasies about the morality of particular American leaders or soundness of American institutions. He would not have been disillusioned by the scandals and crimes of the American political class. He anticipated it. 

Read the rest at The Reading Room.

Putin as the New Hitler: The Russian Political Philosophy Which Justifies Unlimited Atrocities (To Save the World)

When the Nazis in the mid-twentieth century carried out schemes to kill millions of people (soldiers and civilians), they did not say, “Yes, we are evil, but we have the most guns.” Rather, they espoused a political philosophy to justify their actions. According to this Wikipedia entry, the Nazis held that they were simply carrying out normal, healthy, natural selection (the strong eliminating the weak) by having the “superior” race kill and displace the inferior races of humans. Germans therefore felt justified in occupying lands in Eastern Europe, Russia, and Ukraine, to provide “living space” and agricultural production for the master race.

It seems that a somewhat similar political philosophy has taken hold among Russian elites. This became evident early on in Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine, when the Russians bombed a children’s shelter and a maternity hospital. Since then, there have been innumerable bombings of apartment buildings, shopping malls, etc., as deliberate murderous attacks on civilians, rather than having any direct military benefit. The Russians are killing  Ukrainians with the sort of callous abandon displayed by the Nazis towards “undesirables”. The initial Russian complaints about Ukraine joining NATO have disappeared; it is clear that Russia wants to simply erase Ukraine as an entity. It seems that this has been Russia’s plan under Putin for many years. Reportedly, Russian textbooks since around 2014 have deleted discussion of Ukraine as a separate nation.

Where did this toxic outlook come from? According to many observers, a chief architect for this view is political philosopher Aleksandr Dugin. German professor Antony Mueller has summarized some of Dugin’s positions:

Russians are “eschatologically chosen.” They must stand against the false faith, the pseudoreligion of Western liberalism and the spread of its evil: modernity, scientism, postmodernity, and the new world order. This is the thesis of Aleksandr Dugin, the prominent Russian philosopher, and a mentor of the Russian president Vladimir Putin…His theory is a “crusade” against postmodernity, the postindustrial society, liberal thought, and globalization… For Dugin, America is a threat to the Russian culture and to Russia’s identity. He makes his position unmistakably clear when he declares:

“I strongly believe that Modernity is absolutely wrong and the Sacred Tradition is absolutely right. USA is the manifestation of all I hate—Modernity, westernization, unipolarity, racism, imperialism, technocracy, individualism, capitalism.”

Dugin apparently believes that the world, or at least Eurasia, can only be saved from the ravages of “modernity” and American influence by uniting under Russian leadership  and returning to the Sacred Tradition of “religion, hierarchy, and family.”

An independent Ukraine stands in the way of this grand vision. From the Guardian:

Dugin’s worldview is most clearly articulated in his 1997 publication “The Foundations of Geopolitics”, which reportedly became a textbook in the Russian general staff academy and solidified his transition from a dissident to a prominent pillar of the conservative establishment.

In the book, Dugin laid out his vision to divide the world, calling for Russia to rebuild its influence through annexations and alliances while proclaiming his opposition to Ukraine as a sovereign state.

“Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning, no particular cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness,” he wrote.

… Twenty-five years later, Russia’s president repeated some of Dugin’s views on Ukraine in his 4,000-word essay “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”, which many saw as a blueprint for the invasion he launched just six months after it was published.

And as far as Ukrainians resisting Russia’s neo-imperial ambitions, Dugin said, “I think we should kill, kill, kill [Ukrainians], there can’t be any other talk.”

There you have it. The exact influence of Dugin on Putin is debated, but there is no doubt that Dugin’s views are influential in the circles of Russian decision makers. Many Westerners thought early on that Putin would be satisfied with conquering the Russian-speaking Donbas region in the east, and a narrow land bridge to connect that with the Russian-occupied Crimea. His attempts, foiled by heroic Ukrainian resistance, to take Kiev and to take Odessa in the southwest showed that he wants the whole enchilada.

This could be a long war.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Addendum: Dugin’s daughter was killed by a car bomb near Moscow on August 20, 2022. Reportedly the bomb was aimed at Dugin himself, since he was expected to be in the car with his daughter. Moscow accused Ukraine of the assassination, which Kiev plausibly denies. There is also reasonable speculation that a Russian government agency (presumably with Putin’s tacit approval) was aiming to bump off Dugin, for some Byzantine reason.

From the Maine Woods

No big post this week, I’m in the Maine Woods without reliable internet or electricity.

The one economics angle to all this is that like many seemingly ancient Maine forests, the one I’m in used to be a farm. Notice the barbed wire running right through the middle of a huge old tree; the farm was abandoned so long ago that the tree had time to grow that big around it.

Why was the farm abandoned? Maine is cold and our soil is rocky, so agriculture tends to be unproductive relative to the Midwest. Many people left their farms in the late 1800s and early 1900s for new land in the West or, more commonly, manufacturing jobs in the cities. Maine used to be half farms, but now its land is 90% forest.

US Households Have a Lot More Income Than 1967, and It’s Probably Not Just Because of the Rise of Dual-Income Households

We are going through some tough economic times right now: high rates of inflation (generally exceeding wage growth) with the strong possibility of a recession in the near future. In times like this, I think it is useful to also consider the historical perspective. The US economy has gone through challenging times in the past, but the long-run track record is impressive.

Here is one way to show the data. It comes from the Census Bureau, and shows the total money income of households in the US. The data is, of course, adjusted for inflation, and not just with the regular CPI-U: they use the superior CPI-U-RS, which attempts to maintain a consistent methodology for how prices are measured (BLS is constantly improving the CPI, but that sometimes makes historical comparisons challenging). I present the data both as a percent of the total number of households, and the absolute numbers.

I’ve shaded the chart to suggest that over $100,000 of annual income is high income, and under $35,000 is low income, with everything else considered “middle class.” By these definitions, the number of high-income households in the US increased dramatically from 6.6 million (10.9% of the total) in 1967 to 43.7 million (33.6% of the total) in 2020. The number of low-income households also rose, unfortunately, from 21.4 million in 1967 to 34 million in 2020, but the portion of the total fell (from 35.2% to 26.2%) since it increased slower than the overall growth of the number of households. Today, there are more high-income households (43.7 million) than low-income households (34 million) in the US.

But even if you don’t like those definitions, I’ve provided as much detail in the chart as Census makes available publicly. For example, let’s say you think $200,000 is what makes you high income. There were fewer than 1 million of these households in 1967 (1.3% of the total). Today, there are over 13 million of them (10.3% of the total). However we slice the data, there are a lot more high-income households in the US than in the past. (Remember remember, this is all adjusted for inflation.)

Many people found this data interesting when I posted it to Twitter, including the world’s richest person. But among the many objections raised is that this is driven by the rise of female employment and dual-income households. And indeed, that is a factor. But how much of a factor?

Let’s dig into the data.

Continue reading

How Zoning Affects Your Home, Your City, and Your Life (a book review)

As you drive, walk, or bike around your city, what do you think about as you see the various buildings and other structures? Perhaps you think about the lives of the people in them, or the architecture of the buildings themselves, or the products and services that the businesses offer for sale. For me, lately I’ve been thinking about one thing as I make my way around town: zoning. It’s not something I had thought about before very much, but after reading Nolan Gray’s new book Arbitrary Lines: How Zoning Broke the American City and How to Fix It, I’ve been thinking about zoning a lot more.

(Disclosure: I know the author of the book, but I paid for my own copy and got it in advance through the luck of the Amazon-pre-order draw.)

The book does a wonderful job of explaining what zoning is (and importantly, also what it is not), where zoning comes from historically (it’s a development of the early 20th century), and how zoning affects our cities. I really like the way that the book encourages the reader to be a part of the story of zoning. In Chapter 2, Gray encourages you to put down the book and locate your city’s zoning map to learn more about how zoning impacts your life.

I immediately did so and had no trouble finding zoning maps for the city I live in, Conway, Arkansas. Conveniently, my city provides both a simple PDF map and an interactive map, which provides a lot more detail. The interactive map even has embedded links with historical information on different pieces of property. For example, I found the ordinance for when my college, the University of Central Arkansas (previously Arkansas State Teachers College), was annexed by the City in 1958. Pretty cool!

Looking over the map, it’s pretty clear that most of the city that I live in is covered by R-1 and R-2 zoning. But what exactly do these designations mean? You can probably guess that “R” designates residential, but what does it proscribe about land use?

For that, you must dig into the zoning ordinances. And as Gray cautions in the book (somewhat tongue-in-cheek), you might not want to get in too deep with your zoning ordinances, since they can run hundreds or thousands of pages. But I was brave enough to do so, and located my zoning code online (the PDF runs a modest 253 pages).

What did I learn about the zoning that covers my city?

Continue reading

Thoughts for the week on podcasts and the Constitution

  1. Jamal Greene was the most recent guest on Conversations with Tyler. This is how Greene describes his work habits as an academic with children:

GREENE: … my most effective work habit is to use the entire day to work. I get a lot of work done late at night. Most of my time during the day is spent teaching classes or meeting with students, and all writing and reading and preparation and everything is much later. That means I don’t watch television shows. It’s a really extended workday.

I work during soccer practices. I work sitting in the car while my kids are doing something or other. I don’t segregate times of the day where I can’t work.

One thing I find personally is that if I’m doing empirical work then I really need to be inside with at least one external monitor. As much as I like the idea of working from the pool (referencing the viral video of the week) being at my office is the best set up.

2. Currently I am teaching an online asynchronous class. Considering that my students are on the move in different places right now, I decided to create a podcast assignment. This seems to have gone over well. One student had a criticism for the episode that she chose: it was not entertaining. Another student complained that his episode had too much fluff about the personal lives of the speakers. This raises the interesting question of how the experts manage to make podcasts informative without being boring. It’s an art. Talking about your personal life to break up the subject matter can work but it can also feel like a waste of time.

3. For a discussion group, I read The Essential Federalist and Anti-Federalist Papers.

Something that stood out to me was the sheer intensity of these guys. Liberty is a serious topic, but I’ll just share something that is funny from the book.

In the middle of a long fiery speech of Patrick Henry, the book inserts a line in brackets:

What will then become of you and your rights? Will not absolute despotism ensue? {Here Mr. Henry strongly and pathetically expatiated on the probability of the President’s enslaving Americans, and the horrible consequences that must result.}

A footnote explains that stenographer had difficulty keeping up with Mr. Henry and was occasionally reduced to recording a mere summary of his words. It’s impressive that a stenographer could have gotten as much as they did.

I came away from the book thinking that people should talk more about this moment in history, and then I started noticing when people do talk about it. In fact, Tyler was interviewing a constitutional scholar this week and explicitly addressed the idea of “federalism.”

4. The debate does rage on 200+ years later.

Continue reading

Economic Underpinnings of the Renaissance in Northern Italy

The Renaissance in northern Italy was a period between roughly 1350 and 1550 (definitions vary) when a proto-modern outlook and culture and economy replaced  feudal medieval society. We all know about the great artistic and literary and scientific advances made at this time and place. I got curious about the economics behind all this. It is clear that the cities of northern Italy, such as Florence, were extremely prosperous, otherwise they could not have funded all these artists and architects.

It has jokingly been said, “Ah, I don’t see what is so great about Shakespeare – – all he did was string together a bunch of famous quotes.”  Well, since I know little about all this, what I will do here is mainly string together a bunch of relevant quotes.  Let the citations begin….

This blurb from “helenlo-weebly” (?) gives a good overview, noting the  importance of trade and the shift from rural barter to an urban money economy:

Trade brought many new ideas and goods to Europe.  A bustling economy created prosperous cities and new classes of people who had enough money to support art and learning.  Italian city-states like Venice and Genoa were located on the trade routes that linked the rest of western Europe with the East.  Both these city-states became bustling trading centers.  Trading ships brought goods to England, Scandinavia, and present-day Russia.  Towns  along trading routes provided inns and other services for traveling merchants.

          The increase of trade led to a new kind of economy.  During the middle ages people traded goods for other goods.  During the Renaissance people began using coins to buy goods which created a money economy.  Moneychangers were needed to covert one type of currency into another.  Therefore, many craftspeople, merchants, and bankers became more important i society.  Crafts people produced goods that merchants traded all over Europe.  Bankers exchanged currency, loaned money, and financed their own business. 

         Some merchants and bankers grew very rich.  They could afford to help make their cities more beautiful.  Many became patrons and provided new buildings and art; they helped found universities.  This led many city-states to become a flourishing educational and cultural center.

Bartleby.com notes  technical advances in ship construction, and the rise of Florentine bankers:
Genoa and Venice also made advancements in shipbuilding allowing ships to sail all year long and the increased the volume of goods that could be transported (accelerated speed)…Florentine merchants and bankers acquired control of papal banking (acting as tax collectors).

Brewminate  notes the rise of modern commercial infrastructure (which depends on law and order, with contracts being honored) and the virtuous cycle of trade and urban craftsmanship promoting each other. Also, the economic and social impact of the Black Death (which is a huge topic of itself):

The Crusades had built lasting trade links to the Levant, and the Fourth Crusade had done much to destroy the Byzantine Empire as a commercial rival to Venice and Genoa. Thus, while northern Italy was not richer in resources than many other parts of Europe, its level of development, stimulated by trade, allowed it to prosper. Florence became one of the wealthiest cities of the region…

In the thirteenth century, Europe in general was experiencing an economic boom. The city-states of Italy expanded greatly during this period and grew in power to become de factofully independent of the Holy Roman Empire. During this period, the modern commercial infrastructure developed, with joint stock companies, an international banking system, a systematized foreign exchange market, insurance, and government debt. Florence became the center of this financial industry and the gold florin became the main currency of international trade.

The decline of feudalism and the rise of cities influenced each other; for example, the demand for luxury goods led to an increase in trade, which led to greater numbers of tradesmen becoming wealthy, who, in turn, demanded more luxury goods…

The Black Death [in the fourteen century] wiped out a third of Europe’s population, and the new smaller population was much wealthier, better fed, and had more surplus money to spend on luxury goods like art and architecture.

What motivated the newly rich urban elites to so assiduously patronize the arts? According to dailyhistory.org, it was largely a desire to assert one’s status and to curry favor with the local citizens:

The New Elites such as the De Medici used spectacles and display to assert themselves in society and to demonstrate their wealth. Wealthy members of the urban elite and the aristocracy were always keen to demonstrate their status. This need to publicize and affirm one’s status led to the patronage of great artists and writers to provide displays and exhibit the wealth and power of the elite. This need for others’ recognition was vital in the Renaissance, which led to the lavish patronage of the period. This led to a great deal of competition to patronize the best artists and writers.

And there you have it.

If I Had 2 Million Dollars

In July of 1992, the Barenaked Ladies released their debut studio album Gordon, which included one of their most popular songs: “If I Had $1000000.” Considering all the inflation we’ve had recently, you know that $1 million doesn’t buy as much as it did in 1992, but how much less? As measured by the Consumer Price Index in the US, prices have roughly doubled since 1992, meaning you would need about $2 million to buy the same amount of stuff as in 1992.

(Note: the Barenaked Ladies are Canadian, and prices in Canada haven’t quite doubled since 1992, but this song was included on early demo tapes in 1988 and 1989 released in Canada, and prices have roughly doubled there since then.)

So the value of a dollar that you held since 1992 has lost roughly half of its purchasing power. That’s bad. But how bad is it? What’s the normal US experience for how long it takes for prices to double?

It turns out that even with the recent huge run-up in inflation, we just lived through the lowest period of inflation for anyone alive today.

Continue reading

Can Homer Simpson Afford to Send Bart to Springfield University?

In previous blog posts, I’ve used the Simpsons as an example of a typical family to use for historical comparisons. In a post on mortgage payments, I found that it’s slightly easier to make a mortgage payment on Homer’s salary than in the early 1990s. In a post on taxes, I showed that the Simpsons now pay a much lower average tax rate than they did in the 1990s (guess all those tax cuts didn’t just go to the rich!).

Now, the Simpsons and economics are back at the front of the discourse about standards of living. The 33rd season finale of the show is all about whether the middle class can get by economically these days. And Planet Money’s “The Indicator” podcast (great program!) has a podcast about the show, which is a follow-up to a similar podcast last year called “Are The Simpsons Still Middle Class?” (apparently part of the influence for the recent Simpsons episode).

In that podcast from last year, they say “Tuition has more than doubled. Health care costs have more than doubled. I believe housing costs have more than doubled.” And they follow-up, for good measure with “Even after adjusting for inflation, college tuition has more than doubled since ‘The Simpsons’ started.”

Since we’ve already looked at housing costs for Homer, let’s look at the potential college costs for Bart. I’m going to assume Lisa will be fine, probably getting a free-ride (and a hot plate!) to one of the Seven Sisters or maybe even Harvard. But if Bart wants to go to college, the Simpsons will probably be paying out of pocket.

An important factor to consider when looking at college prices is not just the “sticker price,” or the published price, but to also look at what is known as the “net price.” The net price takes into account the average amount of aid that a student receives. This is important to consider at any time, but especially for data in more recent years since discounting has become a major part of the college pricing landscape. For example, at private colleges the average discount is now over 50%, with some colleges essentially giving some discount to 100% of students (in other words, at some colleges no one actually pays the sticker price). Discounting at public colleges isn’t quite as out-of-control as private colleges, but it’s still a major part of college pricing.

And no doubt Bart Simpson would be going to a traditional public, four-year college. Probably Springfield University, just like his old man (though Homer attended as an adult), located right in their town of Springfield. So what has happened to tuition prices since the early 1990s.

One of the best publications on college prices is the College Board’s annual report “Trends in College Pricing.” The report is broken down by type of college, it shows what factors (tuition, housing, etc.) make up the typical cost of college, and even shows differences across US states. Importantly, they include that “net tuition and fees” number, and they’ve been doing so since their 2003 report. That 2003 report even calculated the net figures back to the 1992-93 school year, perfect for an example of the early Simpsons (“Homer Goes to College” aired in 1993).

In the 1992-93 academic year, the average net tuition and fees, plus room and board for public four-year colleges in the US was $4,620 (from Figure 7, adjusted back to nominal dollars). In the 2020-21 academic year, the same figure was $15,050 (from Figure CP-9). Adjusted for inflation, that’s roughly a doubling (slightly less, but in the ballpark) since the early 1990s, just as Planet Money stated.

But let’s compare the cost of college to Homer’s income. In 1992, the median male with a high school education, working full-time earned $26,699, meaning that the cost of college would be 17.3% of his income that year. In 2020, the median male with a high school education, working full-time earned $49,661, meaning that the cost of college would be 30.3% of his income.

By this measure, college clearly has become much more expensive when compared to a Homer Simpson-type salary, and 30% of your income is a very hard pill to swallow (though the 17% in 1992 wasn’t a picnic either). But here’s one other factor to consider. The College Board data also allows us to look only at net tuition and fees, rather than also including the cost of room and board. Remember, Springfield University is located in Springfield, and Bart has a perfectly fine room at the house on Evergreen Terrace. While living on campus is certainly a big part of the college experience, and no one would probably love that experience more than Bart Simpson, many students today do choose to live with their parents while attending college (or at least live off-campus, where housing is often cheaper).

If we just look at net tuition and fees (not room and board), in 1992-93 the average cost at public four-year colleges was about $1,065 (in nominal dollars). That’s about 4% of Homer’s annual income. Much more reasonable! In 2020-21, that same figure was $2,880 (once again, in nominal dollars), or just under 6% of annual income. That’s certainly more than 4%, but not exactly the kind of expense that would break the budget if planned for.

I want to repeat that number again: $2,880. That was the average cost of tuition and fees at an in-state, four-year, public college in the US in 2020-21, after accounting for grants and aid. I suspect this number is much, much lower than most would guess.

The chart below does the same calculation for all the years I could find (1992-2020) using archived versions of the College Board’s report. I’ll admit the data isn’t perfect, as later reports sometimes have different numbers than earlier reports, but it’s probably the best we can do if we want a consistent time series. There does seem to be a break happening in the early 2000s, when college suddenly did get more expensive relative to a high school graduate’s income, though in the past 15 years it’s been pretty flat.

We should keep in mind that if Bart were to take out the maximum federal student loan amount of $9,000 as a dependent student in his first year at Springfield University, he is primarily borrowing money to pay for his housing and food, not his education.

In 1993, the premium for getting a college degree was about 54%, with the median male college grad earning about $41,400 and the equivalent high school grad earning about $26,800 (data from Table P-24). In 2021, that premium had risen to about 64%, with the median male college grad earning $81,300 compared with his high school counterpart earning about $49,700.

I’m ignoring all sorts of important questions here about what is causing the difference in pay. Is it signaling, human capital, something else, or some combination of all these? Yes. But regardless of your preferred explanation for the college wage premium, there’s pretty solid evidence of a sheepskin effect.

Putting It All Together

I’ve now explored taxes, housing, and college education prices using a family like the Simpsons. But what if we put it all together? How are high school graduates doing?

The best way to do this is probably the simple chart you’ve been thinking of all along: median income adjusted for inflation. Some things have gotten cheaper (housing, TVs), some more expensive (college, probably healthcare), but to get a sense of the total effect, we need to adjust for all prices. The chart below is that calculation, using Census data on median earnings for full-time, year-round workers, male high school graduates aged 25 and older. The data starts in 1991. You can get some earlier estimates from different data series, but if we want a consistent series 1991 is the best we can do.

And from the chart we see that real incomes of male high school graduates are… pretty flat. That’s not good, but let’s contextualize. First, claims that it’s harder for these workers to make ends meet aren’t true. It’s roughly no easier, but also no harder. Definitely wage stagnation, but also not “falling behind.”

And also, high school graduates are a shrinking part of the workforce in the United States. You probably already knew this. But it wasn’t until after the year 2000 that college grads became the largest category of workers in the US. In the early 1990s, high school graduates (folks like Homer) were by far the largest single category of workers. Now, it’s by far college graduates, and those with some college or a 2-year degree are roughly equal in size to high school graudates. So, while the income stagnation we see for high school grads is not good, it’s affecting a shrinking portion of workers in the US.