UK households go retro | FT Alphaville

UK households go retro

The UK economy definitely expanded in the second quarter, by 0.7 per cent, the Office for National Statistics has confirmed.

Phew, recovery on track, although as the FT notes, household consumption was slightly weaker than previously thought, a 0.3 per cent gain rather than 0.4 per cent.

However what caught our eye — as we’ve been thinking about the earning power of average households recently — was Chris Dillow‘s point about real household incomes:

Households real disposable incomes have risen 1.9 per cent in last 5 years… If they’d grown at 1988-2008 rate, they’d have risen 16.8 per cent.

Indeed, a glance at the ONS index of real household income over time shows a distinct plateau effect this millennium.

That very slow growth in real incomes has been discussed for some time now, as part of the ongoing debate about income equality and the nature and shape of the recovery.

Breaking it down into 10 year periods dating back to back to 1955 when the data starts we can more clearly look at how the decades compare. (OK, five decades and that first eight-year period, which is the stunted line).

It wasn’t just yuppies getting rich in the eighties. The most recent decade is the thick red line at the bottom. UK household earnings have risen by 11 per cent in total since 2003, and haven’t risen at all over the last three years.

By comparison, the thin blue line which crosses above that of the last decade in 2009, six years in, is the 1973 to 1983 period — notable for its four UK recessions, three-day week, and two oil shocks…

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