10 Charts of the Year — The “Toil Index”

Today’s Chart of the Year comes from economist Robert Frank of New York University.  It shows how many hours per month it takes a worker making the median income to afford renting the median home or apartment.

What does this chart mean?

[This is] what I call the Toil Index. It’s an index I constructed to portray the most dramatic element of the middle-class squeeze — the effort required to rent a house served by a school of average quality.


3 Responses to “10 Charts of the Year — The “Toil Index””

    • John, this chart ends at 2005. Since Obama wouldn’t be President for another few years it takes the most Republican of logic to blame Obama for things that happened years before he was in office.

  1. The “toil index” hasn’t got anything at all to do with “middle class squeeze.” This graphic demonstrates the rise in the price of housing. In other words, diminishing supply relative to growing demand. Both the “middle class squeeze” and the short supply of housing was the consequence of the Baby Boom Generation and the Echo Boom that followed. The “pig in the python” had, by the mid 70s, reached the housing market. Housing prices sky-rocked as builders tried to keep up with demand. As the Echo Boomers move into starter housing and as aging Baby Boomers look to downsize from their “dream homes,” the problem continues. Zoning boards and other free-market interferences, driven by a populist political argument to preserve rural landscapes, have exacerbated the housing shortage in almost every county in America. “Not in my back yard” is the basic reason middle class families have to spend the largest portion of their income on housing. In short, another problem that we can lay at the feet of politicians.

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