How the economy is really doing

These five indicators do a good job of showing what's really going on -- and what it feels like -- out there.

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Income
Income
SCORE: 5.3*
There are many ways to look at what's happening to personal income in the U.S.; I like one by the Pew Charitable Trusts' Economic Mobility Project, which compares the incomes of men and women of various ages with those of earlier peers. What the numbers show is that inflation-adjusted income in general is well below its peak, and that for men, the picture is particularly bleak. (As the percentage of women in the workforce has increased dramatically over 30 years, they've done better.)

For men and women combined, personal income ebbed in 1982 during another particularly nasty recession, the Pew data show. Income, like the employment rate, peaked in the tech boom, which treated men and women more equally than earlier booms had.

Alas, by 2010 personal income for men and women combined had fallen about 10% from that high. And as a result of the "mancession," which claimed millions of construction and manufacturing jobs, men last year hit their lowest income levels since 1982.


NEXT: Savings
Last updated March 02 2011: 5:21 PM ET
* Score is on a scale of 1-10 against their best (10) and worst (1) results since 1980.
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