"Productivity has risen 18 percent ...yet wages have stayed flat... There are 5-million more people in poverty here in our country than there were in 2000."

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, December 5th, 2007 in New York, N.Y.

The ugly truths

As she makes her case for the White House, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., promises voters that she'll do more to help the middle and working classes. Key to that pitch is the notion that things aren't going so well now.

"Productivity has risen 18 percent among American workers over the past six years, yet wages have stayed flat, and family incomes have fallen by nearly $1,000," she told a crowd in New York City on Dec. 5, 2007. "There are 5-million more people in poverty here in our country than there were in 2000."

The macroeconomic forces of a rapidly changing global economy are causing more trouble for many working people than the Bush administration, despite what Clinton and other Democratic candidates suggest.

U.S. Census Data from 1995 to 2005 show that those wages are down or stagnant for workers who have the least education, while earnings have increased for those with college degrees.

Increased competition from cheap foreign labor is squeezing U.S. factory workers and costing jobs, while wages have not kept pace with rising energy and health care prices, several studies say, including the 2006 State of Working America by the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan advocate for the poor.

Productivity indeed is up about 18 percent since 2000, but income is down, and nearly 5-million more people are living in poverty than at the height of the last business cycle in 2000, government statistics show.

"All of that paints more of a picture about what individual households are seeing and reacting to," said Aviva Aron-Dine, a policy analyst for the Center on Budget Policy and Priorities, a nonpartisan advocacy group for the poor.

Clinton accurately portrays the economic challenges facing Americans - and the next president - as she campaigns. We find her statement true.