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Expand chart
Data: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

American incomes have barely changed over the past 20 years on an inflation-adjusted basis, and that's due in large part to the exploding costs of health coverage.

The big picture: More people are plunging deeper into debt as the costs of housing, college and consumer goods greatly outgrow their paychecks. And those paychecks have been stagnant because employers are shoveling more money toward workers' health insurance.

Between the lines: Employers consider a block of compensation for every employee. Health insurance, which is exempt from taxes, has eaten up a lot more of that block over time.

  • In 1999, the average health insurance coverage for a family consumed 14% of the average household income, according to inflation-adjusted figures from the Census Bureau and the Kaiser Family Foundation.
  • By 2017, family coverage absorbed more than double that amount, to about 31% of take-home pay.
  • Health insurance has hovered consistently around 31% of household income since 2012, as companies shifted their employees to plans that had steady premiums but higher deductibles and out-of-pocket costs — a strategy that has largely backfired.

The bottom line: Controlling the costs of employer coverage means pushing back against the health care system, and more employers are doing this as they reach breaking points.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
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The 48-hour rise and fall of the European Super League is the perfect encapsulation of how anti-greed sentiment has changed the rules of capitalism.

Why it matters: The highly-complex structures of capitalism are built from the mostly base motivations of individuals chasing money. That's been condemned and celebrated in equal measure — but has also largely been accepted.

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Senate Republicans formally rolled out the framework for their $568 billion counterproposal to President Biden's $2.5 trillion infrastructure plan on Thursday.

Why it matters: The package is far narrower than anything congressional Democrats or the White House would agree to, but it serves as a marker for what Republicans want out of a potential bipartisan deal.

House passes bill that would make D.C. the 51st state

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The House of Representatives voted 216-208 on Thursday to pass a bill that would grant statehood to Washington, D.C.

The big picture: It's the second year in a row that the Democratic-controlled House has voted to recognize D.C. as the 51st state. The bill now heads to a divided Senate, where it faces little chance of reaching the 60 votes necessary to send to President Biden's desk.