Is the cost of living in the United States about to fall?

The basics of the American economy include rising incomes, high median wages, low unemployment, and declining poverty rates. To sustain this system, job growth is critical.

Although we're still very early in the game, globalization is presenting several hurdles to this system, as a result of the flight of hundreds of thousands of jobs from the U.S. to lower-cost production centers around the world, particularly in emerging markets.

One argument holds that the United States must find new engines of growth -- and new, high-wage jobs -- to replace the ones that have left. If no new growth engines emerge, decidedly bad things could occur: falling median incomes, falling disposable income, and a plunge in the standard of living. Under this argument, no good jobs means no good living standards.