Friday, May 9, 2014

What the Mad Men economy reveals about our own

My latest Baffler piece is up. If you watched Mad Men this past Sunday, you will no doubt remember that Peggy Olson earned herself a big fat raise, one that equivalent to 25 percent of her previous salary. On Twitter and fan sites, viewers expressed emotions ranging from envy to longing to disbelief at this development.
I did some digging into the economic statistics and discovered this amazing fact: between 2003 and 2012 median earnings for full-time, year-round workers declined by 2.7 percent for men and 1.5 percent for women. But between 1960 and 1969, the years during which Mad Men is set, real median earnings—again, for full-time, year-round workers—increased by a staggering 29 percent for men and 25 percent for women.
What the hell happened?, you may well ask. I explain (hint: it has to do with economic inequality -- big surprise, right?) The bottom line, as I say in my piece, is that "Rising wages for the average worker shouldn’t be viewed as a quaint relic from a time when men wore hats."


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