Joe Sixpack's Situation In 2Q2017: The Average Joe Is Better Off

Middle Man Index (blue line, left axis)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Takeaway

My takeaway is:

  • On whole, American households with no assets and only income from wages or safety nets has a modest improvement in their lot in life.
  • This is a lagging view of the average American's situation. Having said this, Joe and Middle Man's consumption is somewhat affected by how rich they feel - and it takes some time for the wealth effect to sink in.
  • The majority of Americans are more like Joe Sixpack than Middle Man.

Caveats on this Post:

Most of the data in this post comes from "Flow of Funds Accounts of the United States" (Z.1) data release from the Federal Reserve which is released quarterly. Although Econintersect can validate the data in general using other sources, micro movements are difficult to validate. Importantly, the Z.1 data is a treasure chest of aggregated data across all sectors of the economy - and an invaluable tool in evaluating historical relationships.

The Joe's Index was introduced by Econintersect in a 07 July 2012 post. This index is documented at the bottom of the July 2012 economic forecast.

To begin, one needs to define Joe Sixpack. Urban dictionary defines Joe:

Average American moron, IQ 60, drinking beer, watching baseball and CNN, and believes everything his President says.

Too many of us think we are smarter than Joe - and are above Joe in the social order. But many of us are Joe. Per Wikipedia:

John Q. Public (and several similar names; see the Variations section below) is a generic name in the United States to denote a hypothetical member of society deemed a "common man." He is presumed to represent the randomly selected "man on the street." Similar terms include John Q. Citizen and John Q. Taxpayer, or Jane Q. Public, Jane Q. Citizen, and Jane Q. Taxpayer for a woman. The name John Doe is used in a similar manner. For multiple people, Tom, Dick and Harry is often used. Roughly equivalent are the names Joe Six-pack, Joe Blow, the nowadays less popular Joe Doakes and Joe Shmoe ….
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Comments

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Moon Kil Woong 4 years ago Contributor's comment

Good article. I would tend to agree, however, getting to this is tough given the skew from the non Joe's. The sad fact is there are more non Joe's today on the low end than before and there are less Joe's on the high end although they are much wealthier which is probably a more important change than the lack of change from the average Joes.

Steven Hansen 4 years ago Author's comment

Absolutely - the lower end is just surviving from hand-to-mouth and this group is growing