Barnes fits snugly into the pattern of America's current economic expansion. The wages of typical workers are treading water, growing roughly at the same rate that inflation eats into their buying power. Last week, the Labor Department reported that average wages for production and nonsupervisory workers in the private sector, about 75 percent of the labor force, reached $16.06 an hour in June, merely 2.7 percent above the level a year earlier.
Yet in terms of the aggregate effect on the total economy, that statistic does not seem to matter much. Workers' wages may be barely keeping up, but Americans' average incomes are growing briskly. This is the result, in part, of growth in the overall number of jobs, including Barnes's extra one. But it also reflects other forms of income, flowing mostly to the more affluent, which are fueling consumer spending, providing an important pillar of support for economic growth over the last three years.
"You have a lower half of the wage distribution in the United States that has not experienced any income gains for a long time now," said Barry Bosworth, an economist at the liberal-leaning Brookings Institution. "But from a macro perspective, this doesn't have much impact."
Even as the average worker's wages are stuck in neutral, profits, professionals' incomes, gains from investments and executive compensation - the kind that frequently comes in the form of stock options - are all surging, supporting healthy gains in the economy.
"Profit has roughly doubled in the last year on revenue growth of about 40 percent," said Alex Mann, co-owner of Clicktime.com, a company in San Francisco that sells time-sheet applications over the Internet. "The top-line growth was very satisfying. There's been very strong growth in the amount left for compensation of the owners and for profits."
To be sure, overall income growth has slowed from its torrid pace of last year - year-on-year growth of real disposable income decelerated to 3.7 percent in the first quarter of 2005, from 4.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2004, which enjoyed an extra jolt from Microsoft's extraordinary $3 billion dividend payout.
But that is still strong enough to support substantial output growth, which is expected to advance about 3.5 percent this year, after accounting for inflation. The income gains have been powerful enough to overcome the headwind of surging oil prices, which have pushed the price of gasoline at the pump to over $2.25 a gallon.
Surging incomes are also helping the federal government reduce the gaping budget deficit.
Federal tax receipts in the first eight months of the current fiscal year, which began last October, reached $1.37 trillion, 15 percent more than in the like period of fiscal 2004.