Adsense is not dead while many publishers claim to have been witnessing lower payouts lately the facts are they are probably in the wrong niches. The high paying niches are ones that have large corporate advertisers like loans, investing, insurance, mortgage, etc. With niches like this you can easily make dollars per click.
The smaller niches that are filled with drop shipping or home based retailers generally do not pay as well. These include alot of hobby related niches like pets, paintball or fishing and niches along those lines.
Although sometimes if you dig a little you can find a good sub niche in a low paying niche. For example the keyword "fishing" does not have high adwords bids but "canadian fishing trip" does. So always research a niche completely or you could be missing a goldmine.
Another thing to consider is how many advertisers there are in the niche you are looking at. The more advertisers the more ads will show on your site, this is important at the end of the month when some advertisers monthly budgets run out and the stop adwords for the month. If all the advertisers stop adwords then non paying public service ads will show up.
If you are unsure about how much a niche pays go to www.SpyFu.com and enter the main keyword into the search box. The current adwords bids will come up along with the number of advertisers. AS a adsense publisher you will get a portion of the Adwords revenue so obviously the higher the better. I try to stick with niches that have $4 and over adwords bids, at that level it tells me the advertisers have money and are making money so the bids should continue to remain high.
Also spyfu will show you a breakdown of adwords bids through out the year, look at the keyword "Canadian fishing trip" for example and you will see in July the adwords bids spike to 7.49 from 2.24 in January so some niches can earn more a certain times of the year.
My mortgage sites for example get better after Christmas when people want to refinance their debt they ran up though Christmas shopping and also in spring when they are buying houses. It tends to slow down from September to after Christmas.