July 15, 2010
The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.
The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that is changing at a blinding pace.
So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough.Here are the statistics to prove it:
- 83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the people.
- 61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
- 66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans.
- 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.
- A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement.
- 24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their planned retirement age in the past year.
- Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
- Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
- For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together.
- In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
- As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 7% of the liquid financial assets.
- The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
- Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when compared with 2008.
- In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE than the average worker in the private sector.
- The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
- In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen to a record 35.2 weeks.
- More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
- For the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
- This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
- Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.
- Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
- The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our national income.
Giant Sucking Sound
The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world. After all, what corporation in their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job?
The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labor pool.
What do most Americans have to offer in the marketplace other than their labor? Not much. The truth is that most Americans are absolutely dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, U.S. workers are "less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, American workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even more difficult to conduct business in the United States.
So corporations are moving operations out of the U.S. at breathtaking speed. Since the U.S. government does not penalize them for doing so, there really is no incentive for them to stay.
What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing quite well, while most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to make it. There are now about six unemployed Americans for every new job opening in the United States, and the number of "chronically unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough jobs for everyone.
Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage of Americans are working at low wage retail and service jobs.
But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the local Wal-Mart.
The truth is that the middle class in America is dying — and once it is gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.
January 3, 2011
Do you think that 2011 will be a good year for America’s middle class? Well, you might not be so optimistic after you read the 30 statistics posted below. The truth is that 2011 is going to be another crappy year for America’s middle class, and there is not a whole lot that you or I can do about it.
Sadly, what we are facing as a nation is not just a short-term economic downturn. Rather, there are some very serious long-term economic trends that are absolutely ripping apart the U.S. middle class. For example, did you know that even though our population has been growing at a brisk pace we have lost about ten percent of our middle class jobs over the past decade? The vast majority of jobs that have been created have been low paying service jobs. We now have hordes of highly educated young people that are waiting tables and that are welcoming customers to Wal-Mart.
Without good paying jobs there is no middle class, but today American corporations are actually creating more jobs overseas than they are inside the United States. This has helped pad the profits of the big corporate fat cats, but it has been devastating for middle class communities across the United States.
Every time a factory gets closed down in America and gets set up in some other country instead, it means that the U.S. middle class is shrinking just a little bit more. The new “global economy” has been good for the bottom line of the largest U.S. corporations, it has been great for countries like China and India, but it is absolutely wiping out the U.S. middle class.
If you still have a good paying middle class job, you should be very thankful. The total number of those jobs is rapidly decreasing. Millions of those that have lost their jobs over the last several years have been forced to take lower paying jobs or even part-time jobs in an attempt to fill the void. Millions of others have not been able to find a job at all.
Meanwhile, the price of everything is going up. Have you been to the supermarket lately? The price of food is going up substantially. Many analysts are already talking about $5 a gallon gasoline in 2010. Utility bills are going through the roof. Health care premiums are soaring. Many state and local governments are seriously hiking up taxes and fees.
Tens of millions of American families are going to be forced to make what they do have stretch even farther in 2011. But for many American families the breaking point has already been reached. An all-time record number of Americans is on food stamps. An all-time record number of Americans is living below the poverty line. Personal bankruptcies and mortgage defaults continue to hover around record levels.
The U.S. economy is shaking like a leaf, and the people that are feeling it the most are the hard working American families that just want to make an honest living, pay the mortgage and feed their families.
Unfortunately, 2011 isn’t going to be any easier for those families. As a nation we continue to pursue the exact same economic policies that have allowed these horrible long-term economic trends to develop. Things are not going to change until our country starts moving in a fundamentally different direction.The following are 30 reasons why 2011 is going to be another crappy year for America’s middle class:
#1 We are bleeding middle class jobs at a pace that is staggering. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost 10% of its middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.
#2 In particular, the United States is absolutely hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.
#3 The decline of manufacturing in America has only accelerated over the past decade. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#4 Deindustrialization is creating ghost towns in some areas of the United States. Even some of America’s biggest cities are now only a shadow of what they used to be. Since 1950, the population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has declined by more than 50 percent. In Dayton, Ohio, 18.9 percent of all houses now stand empty.
#5 We have literally seen tens of thousands of American factories close down permanently over the past decade. Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factories have closed down for good.
#6 U.S. companies now create more jobs overseas than they do in the United States. Over the past year, American companies have created 1.4 million jobs overseas but less than a million jobs here at home.
#7 When Americans lose their jobs these days they typically end up having to take new jobs that do not pay as much. According to one recent study, the majority of unemployed Americans that have been able to find new jobs during this economic downturn have been forced to accept a cut in pay.
#8 The overwhelming majority of the jobs that the U.S. economy is creating now are low paying jobs. In fact, more than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
#9 The number of long-term unemployed continues to skyrocket in this country. As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer. Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.
#10 For those who are out of work, the wait can be excruciating. It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.
#11 Millions of Americans have become extremely depressed as they have discovered that they simply cannot find any work at all. In August 2009, only 10 percent of the unemployed had been out of work for 2 years or longer. Today that number is up to 35 percent.
#12 Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow. According to one recent report, the wealthiest one percent of all U.S. households have an average of approximately $14 million in assets, while the average U.S. household has assets that total about $62,000.
#13 In fact, those at the very top of the income scale seem to be doing better than ever. Between 1950 and 1989, the top 1% usually earned around 7 or 8 percent of all national income. Today that figure is getting very close to 20 percent.
#14 Some of the income inequality statistics are almost too outrageous to believe. For example, the top 20 percent of U.S. working families take home approximately 47 percent of all income and earn about 10 times the amount that low-income working families bring in.
#15 Sadly, most American families are now living week to week. According to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.
#16 The U.S. real estate market continues to stagnate. During the third quarter of 2010, 67 percent of all mortgages in Nevada were “underwater,” 49 percent of all mortgages in Arizona were “underwater” and 46 percent of all mortgages in Florida were “underwater.” So what happens if home prices go down even more?
#17 For millions upon millions of middle class families, their number one financial asset is their house. Unfortunately, many analysts are now projecting that U.S. housing prices will fall much lower than they are now. For example, Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital says that home prices in the United States are going to decline at least 20 percent and possibly even more.
#18 But even though home prices have declined significantly, the truth is that they are still too high for most American families. Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
#19 Most American families have found that their economic situations have significantly deteriorated over the last several years. In fact, 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since December 2007.
#20 As tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by, saving for retirement has become an afterthought. Today, 36 percent of Americans say that they don’t contribute anything to retirement savings.
#21 The truth is that incomes all across America are going down. In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States.
#22 So is anyone doing better? Well, one group is. In 2009, the only group that saw their household incomes increase was those making $180,000 or more.
#23 Most Americans are scratching and clawing and doing whatever they can to make a living these days. Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.
#24 Millions of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because that is all that they could get. The number of Americans working part-time jobs “for economic reasons” is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.
#25 Some of the people that have been hit the hardest by all this have been children. According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 — the highest rate in 20 years.
#26 If all of the above was not bad enough, now we are not even living as long. According to one recent report, the United States has dropped to 49th place in the world in overall life expectancy.
#27 The sad truth is that our country is in decline and it is getting poorer. Ten years ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, the United States has fallen to seventh.
#28 Our young people are supposed to be the hope of the future, but most of them are up to their eyeballs in student loan debt. Americans now owe more than $875 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.
#29 Life is getting harder and harder for those on the low end of the income scale. The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
#30 On top of everything else, the price of oil is skyrocketing again. John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers could be shelling out 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by 2012. If that actually happens, it is going to absolutely devastate millions of middle class American families.
So are you depressed yet?
Well, don’t be. There is a whole lot more to life than just money.
Times are hard and they are going to get harder, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t thrive in the middle of all this. Hopefully we can all take this as a wake up call. We all need to work harder, become less wasteful, become more independent and stop living as if the good times are going to last forever.
July 27, 2010
America’s once thriving middle class is slowly but surely being squeezed out of existence as the gap between the haves and the have-nots continues to grow due to the nation’s failed trade policies that have benefited the very few, according to Michael Snyder.
“Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money,” Snyder writes at Yahoo! Finance. “Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new 'global' labor pool.”The top 10 percent of Americans now earn roughly half of the nation’s wealth, according to The Business Insider. Just 1 percent owns 83 percent of all the nation’s stock. That same 1 percent of Americans were also the beneficiaries of 66 percent of all income growth between 2001 and 2007.
“The big global corporations have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the last several decades, but middle class American workers have increasingly found things to be very tough,” Snyder writes.So tough in fact, that 61 percent of Americans now “usually or always” live paycheck to paycheck, The Business Insider says. Ninety-five percent of Americans have not earned enough additional income to meet the rise in housing costs since 1975. And the bottom 50 percent of Americans now hold less than one percent of the nation’s wealth.
The American middle class was built on the backs of the nation’s manufacturing base. So it stands to reason that the middle class would also fall with the decline of the industrial sector.
Today, top executives make, on average, 100 times more than their employees. In the 1960s, that gap was just 30 times as much. It is no coincidence then that since the 1960s, America has added roughly 46 million jobs, while shedding over two million manufacturing jobs.
“The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world,” Snyder writes.The nation is now more reliant on the low-paying service sector than ever. Currently, 40 percent of those that are employed work in a service industry job. The shift from the manufacturing sector to the industrial sector has forced countless Americans out of the middle class and into lower class status, making the nation’s gap between the rich and poor even more pronounced.
In 2006, the 400 highest earning taxpayers in America made $105 billion in total adjusted gross income, for an average of $263 million each. Those making minimum wage in 2006 made approximately $13,100 for a difference of 20,000 to one.
In addition, a 2009 study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the U.S.' wage gap between the rich and the poor is greater than that of 30 other developed nations — including the United Kingdom, known for its class system with little upward mobility. Furthermore, the study found that America's wage gap is more fitting for an economically downtrodden nation like Russia or Turkey. The top 10 percent of earners in America made roughly $93,000 per year, while the10 percent on the low end of the scale made only $5,800 per year.
“The globalism and ‘free trade’ that our politicians and business leaders insisted would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects,” according to Snyder. “It turns out that they didn't tell us that the ‘global economy’ would mean that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there is no minimum wage and very few regulations.”Are Federal Jobs The Factory Jobs of the Future?
It used to be that unionized factory jobs were the best path to the middle-class in America. Factory jobs, union factory jobs in particular, afforded the workers a good wage, health insurance, and a defined-benefit retirement plan—all three being the foundation of a middle-class lifestyle.
Most of those jobs no longer exist and in the economy of 2010, as I write this, the workers displaced by when a factory closes and their jobs being shipped overseas are slowly losing their grip on the middle-class because they are unable to find a job offering those same benefits. This is a tragedy, really.
And factory jobs are not coming back. America is making the transition from an economy where we built things to a service economy. The downside of that is that service jobs are most often not as good as a union factory job in terms of pay and benefits. And they are not the path to the middle class.
A job with Uncle Sam does provide all the pay and benefits of a factory job. In fact, Federal jobs pay more than comparable jobs in the private sector.
But don’t think that Federal jobs are safe from the same forces that shipped America’s good factory jobs overseas. For the last decade there has been a push to “privatize” Federal jobs; that is, to make Federal workers compete for their jobs with contractors.
On its face, that competition might strike you as fair when, in practice it is anything but fair and those private companies looking to take over Federal jobs quickly learned how to “play” the system. Every Federal job contracted out is one more path to the middle-class lost!
Only the owners of the companies who take over Federal jobs get rich—and the owners of these companies come from the same 5% of the population that owns 80% of the wealth of our country! They blanket Capitol Hill with lobbyists and buy our political system right out from under the working people of this country.
Federal contractors are taking over government jobs from which they are rightly prohibited. The government is even using mercenaries to fight our wars! The military is still a path to the middle-class for many Americans, it was for me, but even that is being robbed from our future generations.
Military personnel used to cook foods for the front-line soldiers and military mechanics once kept vehicles running in the motor pools; those are just two examples of good Federal jobs that have been taken over by contractors. And the truth is that the companies who assumed took those jobs from our young men and women are not doing it for less: They are not saving the American taxpayer a dime!
And what they are costing us are good jobs!
But for the time being, the Federal government does employ over two-million Americans. These are great jobs and each one represents an opportunity for the employee to achieve and maintain a middle-class lifestyle.
Federal employment is the factory floor of the future. And just like unions once fought to maintain the dignity of the American worker, every Federal employee and citizen of the United States who sees the value of having a strong and growing middle-class in our country must fight to keep Federal jobs for Federal employees.
Either that or there will be no path to the middle-class left in America!
The Country's in the Crapper, Part 1