One of the joys of the web is that one does not have to rely on the media to digest documents for you. The quality of most government sponsored reports and enquiries is exceptionally high and one can read them online. One such is the “Final report of the commission on living standards“. The summary is

Millions of households are heading for a long period of stagnant living standards unless bold steps are taken to ensure that growth over the next decade is broadly shared. Even with a return to steady growth, it’s now entirely possible living standards for a large swath of low and middle households will be no higher by 2020 than they were in 2000. Yet actions can be taken to alter this course.

The actual document is far more interesting than the summary. The statistics are complex but broadly speaking the bottom 30% are getting poorer. Surprisingly the share of GDP captured by employees has remained about the same for 40 years, so the root cause of problems is not evil capitalists making excessive profits. The super-rich are getting richer but there are so few of them it is not really significant. No, the real issue is that a lot of graduate jobs are paying a little better while jobs in service and retail pay badly.

So next time you buy a cappuccino, leave a tip.