Policy: Economy

Here's exactly how much money the weak recovery cost you

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If the current economic recovery had kept pace with other post-World War II recoveries, the average American would have $2,700 more in annual income.



That is the number crunched by the American Action Forum, a right-of-center think tank, based on personal income data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Slow income growth for Americans is one of the signs that Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen reads for making decisions about whether to loosen or tighten monetary policy. She listed it among the five factors on her "economic dashboard" in March.

She said then that “3 and 4 percent wage inflation would be normal.”

The most recent jobs report, however, showed hourly wages increased just 2 percent year-over-year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics' more comprehensive Employment Cost Index, which takes into account benefits as well as wages, showed compensation rising just 1.8 percent on the year for the first quarter.

Why wage growth has been so slow and whether she sees it picking up in the wake of recovering inflation over the past few months are questions that Yellen is sure to be asked on Tuesday and Wednesday as she testifies before the Senate and the House as part of her mandatory twice-yearly appearances.

She also is likely to face questions about what the October expiration date for the Fed's quantitative easing program means for short-term interest rates, which most analysts think the Fed will raise above zero for the first time since 2008 in mid-2015.

The week also will include two important data releases: Retail sales on Tuesday and home building on Thursday. Housing starts fell in May after a boom in April, and analysts expect a slight improvement in June, which would be another sign of a housing market slowly building momentum after a weak year.

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