"The stock market has now recovered all of its losses in 2008 and is now 13.3% above its level of Jan. 1, 2007. Other indicators have not done so well. Over the same period, median incomes are up by a total of 6.0% before adjusting for inflation; after adjusting for inflation, incomes are down by 6.7%. Jobs are also down, by 1.7% -- that may not sound like a lot but it is 2 million jobs. Housing prices have fared the worst — even after a modest recovery over the past year, they are still down 28%."
"On the other hand, corporate profits are up sharply over the past five years — by even more than the stock market. As of the end of last year, they were 24% higher at the end of last year and have almost certainly risen further in the first part of this year."
"Putting all this together, the picture is one of an increasing share of national income going to corporate profits and a decreasing share going to personal incomes. While there is much speculation around the reasons for this trend, it almost certainly relates in large part to the effects of globalization and the ability of corporations to move their activities to whatever countries offer the cheapest labor. That, plus the high unemployment in the U.S., has left workers in this country with very little ability to demand wage increases (as we saw in the first chart.)"
TODAY Financial Editor Jean Chatzky on 401(K) contributions