WASHINGTON - In a grim sign of the enduring nature of the economic slump, household income declined more in the two years after the recession ended than it did during the recession itself, new research has found.
Between June 2009, when the recession officially ended, and June 2011, inflation-adjusted median household income fell 6.7 percent, to $49,909, according to a study by two former Census Bureau officials. During the recession - from December 2007 to June 2009 - household income fell 3.2 percent.
The finding helps explain why Americans' attitudes toward the economy, the country's direction and its political leaders have continued to sour even as the economy has been growing. Unhappiness and anger have come to dominate the political scene, including the early stages of the 2012 presidential campaign.
President Obama recently called the economic situation "an emergency," and over the weekend he assailed Congressional Republicans for opposing his jobs bill, which includes tax cuts that would raise take-home pay. Republicans blame Mr. Obama for the slump, saying he has issued a blizzard of regulations and promised future tax increases that have hurt business and consumer confidence.
Those arguments may be heard repeatedly this week, as the Senate begins debating the jobs bill. The full bill - a mix of tax cuts, public works, unemployment benefits and other items, costing $447 billion - is unlikely to pass, but individual parts seem to have a significant chance.
The full 9.8 percent drop in income from the start of the recession to this June - the most recent month in the study - appears to be the largest in several decades, according to other Census Bureau data. Gordon W. Green Jr., who wrote the report with John F. Coder, called the decline "a significant reduction in the American standard of living."