We've heard so often and for so long about wage stagnation that you'd think the data underlying the claim that workers haven't gotten a raise since the 1970s are widely agreed upon, but they're not. In a working paper published this week by the National Bureau of Economics, Dartmouth University's Bruce Sacerdote points out that when using alternative measures of inflation, income growth among middle and lower class Americans looks much more robust than media reports claim.

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Data: National Bureau of Economic Research; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The results: It's impossible to measure real income growth without an accurate measure of inflation, but accurately measuring inflation is difficult and is a major point of disagreement among economists. Sacerdote uses an alternative measure of inflation that shows median wages have grown by 1% per year between 1975 and 2015.

Why it matters: Free market advocates argued for years that rising income inequality and wage stagnation wasn't actually a problem, but now even the Republican Party uses slow wage growth as a talking point. But free market policies are an awkward fit for an economy that is suffering from runaway growth in income inequality and stagnant worker pay. Those who want to shrink government and income redistribution may want to take another look at research like Sacerdote's.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 33,484,120 — Total deaths: 1,004,082 — Total recoveries: 23,212,633Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 5:30 p.m. ET: 7,180,179 — Total deaths: 205,729 — Total recoveries: 2,794,608 — Total tests: 102,342,416Map.
  3. Health: Americans won't take Trump's word on the vaccine, Axios-Ipsos poll finds.
  4. States: NYC's coronavirus positivity rate spikes to highest since June.
  5. Sports: Tennessee Titans close facility amid NFL's first coronavirus outbreak.
  6. World: U.K. beats previous record for new coronavirus cases.
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What to watch in tonight's debate

Joe Biden (left) and President Trump (right) are facing off in Cleveland for the first presidential debate. Photos: Alex Wong (of Biden) and David Hume Kennerly (of Trump)/Getty Images

President Trump will try to break Joe Biden's composure by going after his son Hunter and other family members in tonight's first presidential debate — a campaign source tells Axios "nothing will be off the table" — while Biden plans to stick to the economy, coronavirus and new revelations about how Trump avoided paying taxes.

Driving the news: Biden and Trump are set to debate at 9 p.m. ET at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, and it will be moderated by Fox News' Chris Wallace.

Massive layoffs hit Disney theme parks

A person posing for a photo in front of the iconic Disney castle at Disneyland Resort in Hong Kong on Sept, 25. Photo: Miguel Candela Poblacion/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Disney is laying off 28,000 workers at its theme parks and experiences and consumer products divisions, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic has forced the company to close its California theme parks and limit attendance at re-opened parks elsewhere around the U.S. Around 67% of the 28,000 laid off workers are part-time employees, according to Josh D’Amaro, chairman of Disney's parks, experiences and products division.