Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family. Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore. Well paying "middle income jobs" are being rapidly replaced with "low income jobs" and part-time jobs. As the economy crumbles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the typical American worker to survive from month to month. The number of companies that provide benefits such as health insurance has fallen steadily over the past ten years, and paychecks have not been keeping up with the rising prices of food and gas. Average American families are seeing their budgets squeezed like never before, and many of them are going into huge amounts of debt in order to make up the difference. Sadly, this is a problem that has developed over an extended period of time and that is not going to be reversed overnight. Over the past four decades, the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in America has fallen dramatically. The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or "low income jobs" in the years ahead.
In America today there is a great deal of focus on the unemployed, but there are also millions upon millions of Americans that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find.
It can be absolutely soul crushing to go all the way through school getting good grades, spend a ton of money on an education, and then work for 8 bucks an hour doing meaningless work for some predator corporation that simply does not care about how talented you are.
Today, an astounding 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either "low income" or are living in poverty.
According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in "the fretful zone just above it".
A lot of those people actually do have jobs. Unfortunately, a part-time job that pays 8 or 9 dollars an hour just will not get you anywhere close to getting over the poverty line.
This is not the way that the U.S. economy used to work. Back in the old days, good paying jobs that would allow you to live "the American Dream" were plentiful.
But now millions upon millions of Americans are scrambling for anything that they can get. According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years.
In this economy, a good paying full-time job is incredibly precious. If you still have one, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.
Check out the following chart. It is a chart that shows the level of wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP in the United States since the late 1940s. As you can see, the slice of the pie being taken home by American workers has been dropping like a rock since about 1970....
Is that a clear trend or what?
And it is going to continue year after year as long as we continue to pursue the same foolish economic policies.
As our politicians continue to allow millions of American jobs to be shipped overseas, competition for the jobs that remain inside this country is becoming extremely intense.
As you read this, there are hordes of hard working American workers sitting at home staring at their televisions as they wonder why nobody will hire them.
Right now, if you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.
That is absolutely insane.
But even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are in good shape. The percentage of "low income jobs" just continues to climb. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
Many Americans work as hard as they can and still find that they must turn to the government for financial assistance. According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
And that number is just going to keep climbing unless we change what we are doing as a nation.
Perhaps you are working a "low income job" right now. Most of us have worked a job like that at least once in our lives. Hopefully you will find the following list amusing. Yes, I have exaggerated a few things slightly, but I think you will get the point.
The following are 20 signs you might be a typical American worker....
#1 If you are working three jobs and you still don't have enough money at the end of the month, you might be a typical American worker.
#2 If your job involves asking the question "Would you like fries with that?", you might be a typical American worker.
#3 If you shop at the dollar store because Wal-Mart is too expensive, you might be a typical American worker.
#4 If your job requires you to wear a smock, a brightly colored polo shirt or lots of "flair", you might be a typical American worker.
#5 If people are constantly asking you where the restroom is while you are at work, you might be a typical American worker.
#6 If your employer hires extra part-time workers in order to avoid giving anyone full-time hours, you might be a typical American worker.
#7 If you are required to watch a mindless "training video" after being hired, you might be a typical American worker.
#8 If the company you work for is owned by someone on the other side of the world, you might be a typical American worker.
#9 If a trained seal could do your job and you feel like your expensive education is going to waste, you might be at typical American worker.
#10 If you don't have any health insurance at all, you might be a typical American worker. Only about 25 percent of all part-time workers in the United States receive employee benefits such as health insurance or paid sick leave.
#11 If your car is older than your kids are, you might be a typical American worker.
#12 If you can't afford to buy the things that you are selling to the public, you might be a typical American worker.
#13 If the balances on your credit cards are larger than your bank accounts are, you might be a typical American worker.
#14 If going to Burger King is your idea of "fine dining", then you might be a typical American worker.
#15 If it costs more to fill up your car with gas than you will make at your job today, you might be a typical American worker. The price of gasoline has increased by 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States is now up to $3.52.
#16 If you eat your cereal with a fork so that you can save milk, you might be a typical American worker.
#17 If your electricity bill keeps going up but your paycheck never does, you might be a typical American worker.
#18 If it feels like you are losing an organ every time you pay for health insurance each month, you might be a typical American worker.
#19 If you feel like your employer is constantly tempted to replace you with someone younger and cheaper, then you might be a typical American worker.
#20 If you are so poor that you cannot even afford to pay attention, you might be a typical American worker.
Unfortunately, a lot more Americans are going to be forced into working these kinds of jobs if current trends continue.
Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs even though our population has increased by more than 30 million since then. 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.
The lack of good jobs in America has some very real consequences. In particular, our young adults are really feeling the pain of not being able to find quality employment.
According to a recent poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, huge numbers of Americans in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are delaying major life decisions due to the poor economy....
-44% are delaying buying a home
-28% are delaying saving for retirement
-27% are delaying paying off student loans or other debt
-27% are delaying going back to school or getting more education
-23% are delaying starting a family
-18% are delaying getting married
All of those things take a lot of money, and if you simply don't have the money it makes things really tough.
Sadly, the economy is about to get even worse.
There are an increasing number of voices in the financial world that believe that we are going to see a Greek default in March. So will this actually happen? I certainly don't know. But what some folks are currently saying about the situation sure does make for interesting reading.
In the old days, you could graduate from college, get a good job, work for the same company for 30 years, save up for retirement and count on a comfortable life in your old age.
That paradigm is now totally shattered. The entire global economic system is in a state of chaos and things change faster today than they ever have before.
If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.
The financial institution or insurance company that you are working with today may be out of business by next month.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable. That is why it is imperative to try to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the system.
It is tough to plan in such an environment, but one thing is for sure - tough times are coming and things are not going to get any easier than they are now.