A rising tide lifts all yachts

The Washington Post reports on a two-tier Christmas shopping season:

[U]pscale retailers such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue have seen their sales soar this holiday season while discounters like Wal-Mart and many mid-price department store chains have struggled. [High-end shoppers] help explain how the economy could grow at a healthy 4 percent this year even as it seemed stagnant to so many who had trouble finding a job or whose income did not keep up with higher costs for food, energy, health insurance, tuition and other items.

Pay is rising more than twice as fast for the top fifth of wage earners as it is for all others, and the pace of gains at the high end is quickening, according to economists’ analyses of government income data through September.
Average weekly earnings for production workers and non-supervisory service-sector workers — who account for 80 percent of the employment on private, non-farm payrolls — rose to $522 in the first three months of this year, up just 1.6 percent from the same quarter a year before, according to Labor Department data. This group includes salaried doctors, lawyers and other professionals, as well as construction workers, janitors and clerical employees.


When does the “trickle-down effect” kick in?