Last week, The New York Times highlighted businesses' reluctance to invest in more workers in the current (glacial) economic recovery, instead opting for equipment upgrades. Since the recovery began, the Times reported, spending on machinery and technology has increased 26 percent, while spending on employees has inched up just 2 percent. Costs are, of course, a big factor: Labor costs have increased by nearly 7 percent during the recovery as equipment costs have actually declined.
But rather than an exception, workers' exclusion from the benefits of the recovery may be part of an alarming new trend. Take a look at this chart, showing the share of the nation's income going to workers over the decades:
The rebound in workers' income share after the early 2000s recession simply never materialized. As a result, this figure is now at by far its lowest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track of it in 1947.
A graph of the financial industry's profits, needless to say, looks a little different.