Who stole the middle class's raise? Cheap foreign workers did it. Software did it. The decline of unions and manufacturing did it, too. But don't forget health care.
Between 1999 and 2012, workers' health care costs grew four times faster than their earnings, according to a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The "good news" in the report is that health insurance cost growth has slowed significantly in the last few years. Then again, earnings growth has slowed even more -- and maybe employers who switched to cheaper plans in the slow recovery will lead the re-acceleration of health care costs next year. We don't know.
But reports like this are an important reminder that some of the trends behind the observed flat-lining of middle class wages won't be addressed by the common -- and important -- debate about trade deficits, and robots, and replaceable workers. We've made a choice to insure workers and one consequence of that choice is that as the cost of insurance rises, the pool of money left over to pay salaries is smaller.