Middle Class Destroyed: 50 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than $30,533 A Year

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done.  According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point.  That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.  When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500.  But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below.  So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode.

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become.  Here are just a few examples from their official website

-34 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-48 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-59 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-68 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet about half the workers in the entire country don’t even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is “doing well”?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month.  The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year.  Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves “middle class”, but that doesn’t make it true.

You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well.  But the truth is that $2,500 a month won’t get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live.  Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018.  If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper.  But for the vast majority of us, let’s assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses.  These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc.  I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work.  In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month.  The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid.  Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month.  But for this example let’s assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don’t know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let’s go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don’t have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn’t even account for taxes yet.  When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn’t pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today.  That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month.  Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation.  For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents — and almost half of all children — live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

“We’re in the Appalachians of the West,” Mayor Rey Leon said. “I don’t think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long.”

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation’s most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn’t, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots.  It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically.  The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Employment Boom: 10 Companies That Have Promised To Add Jobs In The United States Since Trump Was Elected

Hiring - Public DomainOne of the primary things that Trump’s presidency will be judged upon is his ability to encourage the creation of good paying jobs for American workers, and so far the results have been quite promising.  Since Trump’s surprise election victory in November, a whole bunch of companies have either promised to bring jobs back into the country or have pledged to create new ones.  Ultimately time will tell if those jobs actually materialize, but for the moment there is a tremendous amount of optimism in the air.  In fact, I don’t know if we have ever seen anything quite like this at the beginning of a new presidency.  The following are 10 companies that have promised to add jobs in the United States since the election of Donald Trump…

#1 Kroger says that it intends to fill 10,000 permanent positions in the United States this year.

#2 IBM has announced that it will be hiring an additional 25,000 workers in the United States over the next four years.

#3 Foxconn is considering setting up a 7 billion dollar plant in the United States that would create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs.

#4 Amazon.com has pledged to add 100,000 full-time jobs in the United States by mid-2018.

#5 Wal-Mart has announced that it plans to add approximately 10,000 retail jobs in the United States in 2017.

#6 Sprint has announced that 5,000 jobs will be brought back to the United States instead of going overseas.

#7 After meeting with Trump, the CEO of SoftBank stated his intention to create 50,000 new jobs in the United States.

#8 After a phone call from Trump, industrial manufacturing giant Carrier promised to keep hundreds of jobs in the United States instead of moving them out of the country.

#9 Hyundai has promised to spend 3.1 billion dollars supporting their current factories in Georgia and Alabama, and they have said that they are now considering adding an additional factory in the United States as well.

#10 GM has pledged to invest a billion dollars in U.S. factories and to add or keep 7,000 jobs in the United States.

Unlike most politicians, so far Donald Trump seems determined to actually keep many of the promises that he made during the campaign.  And on Monday he kept a very important promise by pulling the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  If you are not familiar with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the following is a pretty good summary  from USA Today

The TPP is a comprehensive trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim countries, not including China, that was signed last year by President Obama after seven years of negotiation. But the Senate had not yet ratified it. The 30-chapter pact, which also needed to be ratified by other countries before Trump’s order Monday, primarily aims to boost exports, remove tariffs and non-tariff  barriers, open access to more markets and usher in transparency in trade rules.

The 12 nations that were to be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership collectively account for approximately 40 percent of global GDP.  So it was going to be a very big deal, and it is something that Barack Obama had been working on for many years.

But with one stroke of a pen it is over, and as I will explain below that is a very good thing.

Trump is also promising to keep his pledge to renegotiate NAFTA

On Nafta, Trump said Sunday that he’ll meet with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto to begin discussing the deal, which he has routinely blamed for the loss of U.S. jobs although there was little change to employment in the U.S. in several years after it went into effect. Trump signaled that he’s willing to work with the U.S.’s closest neighbors.

“We’re going to start renegotiating on Nafta, on immigration, and on security at the border,” Trump said at the start of a swearing-in ceremony for top White House staff. “I think we’re going to have a very good result for Mexico, for the United States, for everybody involved. It’s really very important.”

Nobody is suggesting that we shouldn’t trade with the rest of the world, but what Donald Trump understands that so many other politicians do not is that many of these “free trade deals” have been extremely destructive to the U.S. economy.

For years, we have been buying far, far more from the rest of the world than they have been buying from us.  As a result of our massive trade deficits, there has been a continual flow of cash, jobs and businesses leaving the country.

Over the past several decades, formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit have been reduced to urban hellholes.  Meanwhile, China has become exceedingly wealthy and gleaming new factories have sprouted like mushrooms in their major cities.

This didn’t happen by accident.

Bad decisions lead to bad results.  And if we had kept on doing the same things, we would have continued to systematically impoverish our nation.

For more than seven years, I have been hammering home the message that our trade policies have been absolutely killing us.  So I am quite thankful that we finally have a president that understands these things.

Of course there is much more to fixing our economy than just addressing our trade deals.  As I discussed yesterday, our rapidly growing debt is becoming a major crisis, and that is going to present quite a challenge for Trump.

But for the moment, we should definitely celebrate the fact that Trump has gotten us out of the TPP and that he plans to renegotiate NAFTA.

Donald Trump understands business, and it is going to be fascinating to watch how a businessman handles the position of the presidency.  It has only been a few days, but already some of his former critics seem to be coming around a little bit.  For instance, just consider what Mark Cuban is saying

The Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur is “playing it by ear” when it comes to the effect President Donald Trump’s policies will have on the stock market. But he thinks there’s possible upside.

“I think the discussed economic programs are potentially a big plus for public companies and the overall economy,” Mr. Cuban said in an e-mail Monday morning.

The potential policies Mr. Cuban is optimistic about: corporate tax cuts; getting rid of the “friction” for small businesses; and reducing and simplifying administrative activities.

Considering our current trajectory and the immense amount of long-term damage that was done during the Obama years, it is hard to be optimistic about the future of the U.S. economy.

However, I am certainly willing to give Donald Trump a chance to show what he can do.

At least he is doing things differently than his predecessors did, and that is to be greatly applauded because the road that we were on clearly would have ended in economic oblivion.

We may very well end up there anyway, but there is certainly nothing wrong with being hopeful that Trump can somehow turn things around.

‘You’re Fired – Now Train Your Much Cheaper Foreign Replacement’

Fired - Photo by XonecaIf you were laid off from your job, would you be willing to train your replacement if your company threatened to take away your severance pay if you didn’t do it?  And how would you feel if your replacement came from India, and the only reason your company was replacing you was because the foreign worker was a lot less expensive?  Sadly, this is happening all over America – especially in the information technology field.  Huge corporations such as Disney and Southern California Edison are coldly firing existing tech workers and filling those jobs with much cheaper foreign replacements.  They are doing this by blatantly abusing the H-1B temporary worker visa program.  Workers that had been doing a solid job for decades are being replaced without any hesitation just because it will save those firms a little bit of money.  There is very, very little loyalty left in corporate America today.  Even if you have poured your heart and your soul into your company for years, that ultimately means very little.  The moment that your usefulness is over, most firms will replace you in a heartbeat these days.

When I learned that Disney was doing this, I was absolutely outraged.  Talk about a company that is going down the toilet.  The following comes from the New York Times

While families rode the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and searched for Nemo on clamobiles in the theme parks, these workers monitored computers in industrial buildings nearby, making sure millions of Walt Disney World ticket sales, store purchases and hotel reservations went through without a hitch. Some were performing so well that they thought they had been called in for bonuses.

Instead, about 250 Disney employees were told in late October that they would be laid off. Many of their jobs were transferred to immigrants on temporary visas for highly skilled technical workers, who were brought in by an outsourcing firm based in India. Over the next three months, some Disney employees were required to train their replacements to do the jobs they had lost.

I just couldn’t believe they could fly people in to sit at our desks and take over our jobs exactly,” said one former worker, an American in his 40s who remains unemployed since his last day at Disney on Jan. 30. “It was so humiliating to train somebody else to take over your job. I still can’t grasp it.

Honestly, I don’t think that I could do it.

I don’t think that I could train my much cheaper foreign replacement.

But if you are the average American that is just barely scraping by from paycheck to paycheck, I guess complete and total humiliation is better than losing your home to foreclosure.

Out on the west coast, Southern California Edison did the exact same thing that Disney did.  The following is an excerpt from a Fox News report

Anonymous workers who were displaced by the visa holders also submitted written testimonials to lawmakers detailing their firings. Several claimed they were forced to train their replacements, and threatened with losing their severance if they did not.

We had no choice in this,” one anonymous worker who claimed to have been one of those let go from Southern California Edison, said in a letter. The worker described how when the two vendors were picked – Infosys and TCS, both major Indian companies – SCE employees were told to “sit with, video chat or do whatever was needed to teach them our systems.”

If they did not cooperate, according to the testimonial, “we would be fired and not receive a severance package.”

That is wrong on so many levels.  But this is what corporate America has become today – a cold, heartless place that has absolutely no empathy for the average worker.

These workers at Southern California Edison were even told that the firm “could replace one of us with three, four, or five Indian personnel” and still save money on the deal

They told us they could replace one of us with three, four, or five Indian personnel and still save money,” one laid-off Edison worker told me, recounting a group meeting with supervisors last year. “They said, ‘We can get four Indian guys for cheaper than the price of you.’ You could hear a pin drop in the room.”

The original intent of the H-1B temporary worker visa program was to allow U.S. companies to import foreign workers to do jobs that they were unable to fill with American workers.

But that is not what is happening.

Instead, the H-1B temporary worker visa program is being used to replace thousands upon thousands of well paid American workers.

It is a disgusting practice and it needs to stop.  There has been so much outrage over this that it has even gotten the attention of the U.S. Senate.  The following is from a letter that a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators sent to the Attorney General

A number of U.S. employers, including some large, well-known, publicly-traded corporations, have reportedly laid off thousands of American workers and replaced them with H-1B visa holders.  To add insult to injury, many of the replaced American employees report that they have been forced to train the foreign workers who are taking their jobs. This troubling practice seems to be particularly concentrated in the information technology (IT) sector, which is not surprising given that sixty five percent of H-1B petitions approved in FY 2014 were for workers in computer-related occupations.  Though such reports of H-1B-driven layoffs have been circulating for years, their frequency seems to have increased dramatically in the past year alone.

So has anything been done about this?

Of course not.

Instead, Barack Obama is working on an extremely secretive global economic treaty which will reportedly allow far more foreign workers to come into this country and which will result in millions more good paying jobs being shipped overseas.  It is called “The Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it is basically NAFTA on steroids.

Why is it that Barack Obama has to be on the wrong side of every single issue?

The U.S. middle class is being systematically ripped to shreds, and most Americans are showing very little alarm about this.

How much damage has to be done before people will finally start waking up?

Ultra-Secrecy Surrounds Barack Obama’s New Global Economic Treaty

Obama SelfieBarack Obama is secretly negotiating a global economic treaty which would destroy thousands of American businesses and millions of good paying American jobs.  In other words, it would be the final nail in the coffin for America’s economic infrastructure.  Obama knows that if the American people actually knew what was in this treaty that they would be screaming mad, so the negotiations are being done in secret.  The only people that are allowed to look at the treaty are members of Congress, and even they are being banned from saying anything to the public.  American workers are about to be brutally stabbed in the back, and thanks to all of this secrecy and paranoia they won’t even see it coming.

The name of this new treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and it is being touted as perhaps the most important trade agreement in history.  But very few people in this country are talking about it, because none of us are allowed to see it.  An article that was just released by Politico detailed the extreme secrecy that is surrounding this trade agreement…

If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.

And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.

This treaty is going to affect the lives of every man, woman and child living in this nation, and yet it is deemed so “important” that none of us can know what is in it?

Are you sure that we still live in a Republic?

This treaty will cover 40 percent of the global economy, and U.S. officials hope that the EU, China and India will become members eventually as well

Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy.  And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well.  This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.

If the EU, China and India did eventually join the treaty, that would essentially make it a trade agreement for the entire planet.

This is a really big deal, and it should be openly debated by the American people.  But instead, Barack Obama has chosen to shroud the entire process with as much secrecy as possible.  Not only that, he also wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority.  If Congress does that, they would essentially be saying that they blindly trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us.  At the end of the process, Congress would be able to vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend it.

That sounds insane, right?  Well, if you can believe it, Republicans in the Senate are quite eager to give Barack Obama this authority.

And this is not just an economic treaty.  The following is an excerpt from one of my previous articles

It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress.  Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty.  If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

We can’t consume our way to prosperity, and we can’t borrow and spend our way to prosperity.  In order to be prosperous as a nation, we have got to create at least as much wealth as we consume.  But instead, we are doing just the opposite.  We are consuming wealth like mad even while our economic infrastructure is being absolutely gutted.  We have lost thousands of businesses and millions of jobs already, and this new treaty will make things much worse.

And of course eventually even the ultra-cheap labor on the other side of the planet will be replaced.  This is something that is already happening in China.  Just today there was a news story about a new manufacturing facility in China that will use only robots

Construction work has begun on the first factory in China’s manufacturing hub of Dongguan to use only robots for production, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

A total of 1,000 robots would be introduced at the factory initially, run by Shenzhen Evenwin Precision Technology Co, with the aim of reducing the current workforce of 1,800 by 90 percent to only about 200, Chen Xingqi, the chairman of the company’s board, was quoted as saying in the report.

The company did not give a figure for the investment in the factory, but said its production capacity could reach a value of 2 billion yuan (US$322 million) annually.

All of this is very bad news for American workers.  Whether it is ultra-cheap labor on the other side of the globe or new technology, big corporations are constantly looking for ways to produce things less expensively.

But in order to have a middle class, we have got to have middle class jobs.  The middle class in the United States is steadily disappearing, and neither political party seems very concerned about this at all.

Even without this new trade treaty, our trade deficit with the rest of the planet continues to grow even larger.  We just learned that the monthly U.S. trade deficit for March rose to $51.4 billion.  That was the largest monthly trade deficit since October 2008.  If you will remember, in October 2008 we were experiencing the worst financial crisis since the days of the Great Depression.

And if you take oil out of the number, our trade deficit for the month of March would be the worst ever recorded.

Thank you Barack Obama.  Your trade policies are really “working”.

Because the trade deficit was much worse than expected, that is going to push the GDP number for the first quarter into negative territory

Greg Daco of Oxford Economics says he expects the wider than expected trade deficit to prompt the government to revise its estimate of 0.2% growth in U.S. gross domestic product for the first quarter to a 0.5% contraction.

That means that if we have another contraction in the second quarter, we will officially be in a recession.

In fact, we could be in a recession right now (according to the official government definition) and not even know it yet.

One of the biggest reasons why the U.S. economy has been struggling so much in recent years is due to our trade policies.  If we had balanced trade with other nations, our cumulative economic growth since mid-2009 would have been nearly 20 percent higher

Since rising trade balances subtract from economic growth, the increase in this real non-oil goods deficit has now cut cumulative U.S. economic growth after inflation by a stunning 19.49 percent since the recovery technically began in mid-2009.

Are you starting to see why I get so fired up about trade?

But instead of encouraging big corporations to do what is right for the American people, our system greatly rewards companies like Apple that proudly send jobs offshore.  The following is an excerpt from an outstanding article by Andrew Zatlin

Nine years, a trillion dollars in sales, and almost no taxes paid. That’s just the starting point for wondering about Apple’s actual contribution to the US economy.

Apple’s success drags down the US GDP.  The behemoth that is Apple sold almost 200M phones last year, none of which were made in the US or used components made here. Instead of exporting $100B in iPhones, the US imported $50B. That $150B swing matters in terms of balance of trade, GDP and jobs. If you wanted to improve the US economy, there’s no better place to start than with Apple and smartphones.

Apple undermines the US manufacturing base. Assembly matters and manufacturing matters more. There was a time when Apple could have assembled phones and tablets in the US, but that would mean spending an extra $5 per phone since that’s approximately the extra labor cost to build that $700 phone here instead of in Vietnam or China. Assembly may not be a competitive, value-add step but it does employ a lot of people.

Unfortunately, it would also cut Apple’s profits by $1B, shrinking the company’s annual net income from $45B to $44B. Apple wouldn’t notice a drop in profits of $1B because it’s not putting its cash to use: Apple has $200B in cash conveniently parked outside of the US, not doing anything. On the other hand, assembling in the US would employ tens of thousands of people.

You can read the rest of that great article right here.

Our trade policies matter.  Decades of incredibly foolish decisions have ripped our economic infrastructure to shreds, and we are slowly but steadily committing national economic suicide.

Now, Barack Obama is absolutely determined to deliver the finishing blow, and it is all being done in secret.

When are you going to wake up and start getting angry America?

50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 28,031 Dollars A Year

Real Median Household Income 2014The Social Security Administration has just released wage statistics for 2013, and the numbers are startling.  Last year, 50 percent of all American workers made less than $28,031, and 39 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000.  If you worked a full-time job at $10 an hour all year long with two weeks off, you would make $20,000.  So the fact that 39 percent of all workers made less than that amount is rather telling.  This is more evidence of the declining quality of the jobs in this country.  In many homes in America today, both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. Our paychecks are stagnant while the cost of living just continues to soar.  And the jobs that are being added to the economy pay a lot less than the jobs lost in the last recession.  In fact, it has been estimated that the jobs that have been created since the last recession pay an average of 23 percent less than the jobs that were lost.  We are witnessing the slow-motion destruction of the middle class, and very few of our leaders seem to care.

The “average” yearly wage in America last year was just $43,041.  But after accounting for inflation, that was actually worse than the year before

American paychecks shrank last year, just-released data show, further eroding the public’s purchasing power, which is so vital to economic growth.

Average pay for 2013 was $43,041 — down $79 from the previous year when measured in 2013 dollars. Worse, average pay fell $508 below the 2007 level, my analysis of the new Social Security Administration data shows.

Flat or declining average pay is a major reason so many Americans feel that the Great Recession never ended for them. A severe job shortage compounds that misery not just for workers but also for businesses trying to profit from selling goods and services.

Average pay declined in 59 of the 60 levels of worker pay the government reports each October.

And please keep in mind that “average pay” is really skewed by the millionaires and billionaires at the top end of the spectrum.

Median pay in 2013 was just $28,031.02.  That means that 50 percent of American workers made less than that number, and 50 percent of American workers made more than that number.

Here are some more numbers from the report that the Social Security Administration just released…

-39 percent of American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-52 percent of American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-63 percent of American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-72 percent of American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

I don’t know about you, but those numbers are deeply troubling to me.

It has been estimated that it takes approximately $50,000 a year to support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four, and so the fact that 72 percent of all workers make less than that amount shows how difficult it is for families that try to get by with just a single breadwinner.

The way that our economy is structured now, both parents usually have to work as hard as they can just to pay the bills.

But there was one group of Americans that did see their incomes actually increase last year.

Those making over 50 million dollars had their pay increase by an average of $12.8 million in 2013.

For everyone else, the news was not good.

And of course this is a trend that has been going on for a long time.

Posted below is a chart that comes from the Federal Reserve.  It shows how real median household income in the United States has declined since the year 2000…

Real Median Household Income 2014

Meanwhile, the cost of living has continued to rise at a steady pace.

Needless to say, this is putting a tremendous squeeze on the middle class.  With each passing day, more Americans are losing their spots in the middle class and this has pushed government dependence to an all-time high.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month.  This is completely and totally unsustainable, but our long-term economic problems just keep getting worse.

Our politicians have stood by as millions upon millions of good paying jobs have been shipped out of the country.  Millions of other middle class jobs have been lost to technology.  This has resulted in intense competition for the middle class jobs that remain.

And at this point we are even losing lots of lower paying retail jobs.  For example, it is being reported that Sears plans to close 110 more stores and lay off more than 6,000 workers.  Sears says that the report “isn’t accurate”, but it isn’t denying that stores will be closed either…

In an email to USA Today, Sears spokesman Howard Riefs said the store count and closures “isn’t accurate,” but did not provide store closures or layoff numbers.

“As we stated in our (second quarter earnings report), we disclosed that we would be closing unprofitable stores as leases expire and in some cases will accelerate closings when it is economically prudent. And that we would consider closing additional stores during the remainder of the year,” Riefs said. “Make no mistake, we believe the store will continue to play an integral role in our transformation, however, if a store is not generating a profit, it is straightforward that the store should be considered for closure.”

No matter how many stores Sears does end up closing over the next few months, the truth is that our economy is a complete and total mess at this point.

Our politicians and the mainstream media are trying to put a happy face on everything, but the cold, hard numbers prove that we are not anywhere close to where we were prior to the last recession.

Because it is so difficult to find a good job in America today, I often recommend to people that they should consider starting their own businesses.

But thanks to the bureaucratic control freaks in the Obama administration and in our state governments, small business ownership in America today is at an all-time low.  It is almost as if they don’t want the “little guy” to win.  Every avenue of prosperity for the middle class is under assault, and there does not appear to be much hope that this will change any time soon.

And the truly frightening thing is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the middle class.  We are rapidly approaching the next major wave of our long-term economic decline, but that is a topic for a future article.

Which America Do You Live In? – 21 Hard To Believe Facts About “Wealthy America” And “Poor America”

Luxury YachtsDid you know that 40 percent of all American workers make less than $20,000 a year before taxes?  And 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes.  If you work on Wall Street, or have a cushy job with the federal government, or work for a big tech firm out on the west coast, life is probably pretty good for you right now.  But the truth is that most Americans are not living the high life.  In fact, most Americans are just trying to figure out how to survive from month to month.  For many Americans, making a choice between buying food for your family and paying the light bill is a common occurrence.  But if you don’t live in that America, hearing that people actually live like that may sound very strange to you.  After all, if everyone around you has expensive cars, the latest electronic gadgets and million dollar homes, the notion that America is in the midst of a very serious “economic decline” may seem very bizarre to you.

On Wednesday, the Dow hit a brand new record high, and Wall Street celebrated.  Since the financial crisis of 2008, stocks have been on an unprecedented run.  The top performers in the market have not just made millions of dollars – they have made billions of dollars.  Luxury apartments in Manhattan and beachfront homes in the Hamptons are selling for absolutely astronomical prices, and it seems like life in the good parts of New York City is one gigantic endless party these days.

Meanwhile, life is quite good down in Washington D.C. as well.  The wealth is spread more evenly, but on average the D.C. region actually has the highest standard of living of any major U.S. city.  The reason for this is the obscene growth of the federal government.  Over the past couple of decades, the U.S. government has ballooned in size and so have government salaries.  During one recent year, the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000.

Out in the San Francisco area, Internet money is flowing like wine right now.  As I wrote about yesterday, top employees of companies such as Facebook and Twitter can make millions of dollars a year.  And if you were lucky to get a piece of the ownership of one of those companies at a very early stage, you are essentially set for life.

And with the Twitter IPO coming up, Internet euphoria is once again reaching a fever pitch.  For example, just check out what a 56-year-old administrative assistant said this week about why she is going to buy Twitter stock

“I’m just buying because everybody’s talking about Twitter,” she said. “I’m just gonna take a chance.”

Is that how we should make our investment decisions from now on?

Just buy a stock because everybody’s talking about it?

That is the kind of insanity that is going on in “wealthy America” right now.

Unfortunately, the gap between “wealthy America” and “poor America” is greater than ever before.

If you live in “wealthy America”, what you are about to hear next will probably sound very strange.

CNN recently profiled a 44-year-old overnight prison guard named Delores Gilmore.  She works really hard, but a lot of times she simply does not have enough money to pay all of her bills…

“The first of the month, I pay the rent,” she said. “The next check, I pay my light bills. Sometimes I won’t pay my rent and I pay the light bill from last month — if they cut if it off. Then I pay the rent the end of the month.”

Her life consists of going to work, taking care of her children, going to sleep, and then getting back up and repeating that same cycle once again…

“I’m not fooling anybody,” she told me. “I don’t have any friends. And that’s sad. … I go to work, come home, take them where they gotta go, if they gotta go somewhere, come back home, lay down, go to work.

“That’s what I do. All day, that’s what I do.”

Sadly, the truth is that tens of millions of Americans can identify with what she is going through on a daily basis.  In millions of families, both the husband and the wife work multiple jobs and it is still not enough.

If we truly did have a free market capitalist system, the entire country would be a land of opportunity and things would be getting better for everybody.  Unfortunately, that is not the case at all.  The following are 21 facts about “wealthy America” and “poor America” that are hard to believe…

#1 The lowest earning 23,303,064 Americans combined make 36 percent less than the highest earning 2,915 Americans do.

#2 40 percent of all American workers (39.6 percent to be precise) make less than $20,000 a year.

#3 According to the Pew Research Center, the top 7 percent of all U.S. households own 63 percent of all the wealth in the country.

#4 On average, households in the top 7 percent have 24 times as much wealth as households in the bottom 93 percent.

#5 According to numbers that were just released this week, 49.7 million Americans are living in poverty.  That is a brand new all-time record high.

#6 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.

#7 Household incomes have actually been declining for five years in a row and total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#8 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.

#9 The homeownership rate in the United States is at an 18 year low.

#10 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have as much wealth as the bottom one-third of all Americans combined.

#11 18 percent of all food stamp dollars are spent at Wal-Mart.

#12 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.

#13 It is hard to believe, but right now 1.2 million students that attend public schools in America are homeless.  That number has risen by 72 percent since the start of the last recession.

#14 One recent study discovered that nearly half of all public students in the United States come from low income homes.

#15 In 1980, CEOs at S&P 500 companies made 42 times as much as their employees did on average.  Today, CEOs at S&P 500 companies make 354 times as much as their employees do on average.  In fact, there are many CEOs that make more than 1000 times what the average employees in their companies make.

#16 U.S. families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.

#17 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less.

#18 Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.

#19 Approximately one out of every five households in the United States is now on food stamps.

#20 The number of Americans on food stamps has grown from 17 million in the year 2000 to more than 47 million today.

#21 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5 percent of all the wealth in the United States.

So which America do you live in?  Please feel free to tell us what is going on in your neck of the woods by posting a comment below…

40 Percent Of U.S. Workers Make Less Than What A Full-Time Minimum Wage Worker Made In 1968

1968 Shelby GT350 - Photo by Ben CossitorAre American workers paid enough?  That is a topic that is endlessly debated all across this great land of ours.  Unfortunately, what pretty much everyone can agree on is that American workers are not making as much as they used to after you account for inflation.  Back in 1968, the minimum wage in the United States was $1.60 an hour.  That sounds very small, but after you account for inflation a very different picture emerges.  Using the inflation calculator that the Bureau of Labor Statistics provides, $1.60 in 1968 is equivalent to $10.74 today.  And of course the official government inflation numbers have been heavily manipulated to make inflation look much lower than it actually is, so the number for today should actually be substantially higher than $10.74, but for purposes of this article we will use $10.74.  If you were to work a full-time job at $10.74 an hour for a full year (with two weeks off for vacation), you would make about $21,480 for the year.  That isn’t a lot of money, but according to the Social Security Administration, 40.28% of all workers make less than $20,000 a year in America today.  So that means that more than 40 percent of all U.S. workers actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.  That is how far we have fallen.

The other day I wrote an article which discussed the transition that we are witnessing in our economy right now.  Good paying full-time jobs are disappearing, and they are being replaced by low paying part-time jobs.  So far this year, 76.7 percent of the jobs that have been “created” in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.

That would be depressing enough, but what makes it worse is that wages for many of these low paying jobs have actually been declining over the past decade even as the cost of living keeps going up.  The following is from a recent USA Today article

In the years between 2002 and 2012, real median wages dropped by at least 5% in five of the top 10 low-wage jobs, including food preparers and housekeepers.

So where have the good jobs gone?

Well, there are three long-term trends that are absolutely crushing American workers right now.

First of all, thanks to our very foolish politicians American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they must directly compete for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.  This has resulted in millions upon millions of good jobs leaving this country.  Big corporations can pad their profits by taking a job from an American worker making $15 an hour with benefits and giving it to a worker on the other side of the globe that is willing to work for less than a dollar an hour with no benefits.  Our politicians could do something about this, but they refuse to do so.  Most of them are absolutely married to the idea of a one world economic system that will unite the globe.  Unfortunately, the U.S. economy is going to continue to lose tens of thousands of businesses and millions upon millions of jobs to this one world economic system.

Secondly, big corporations are replacing as many expensive workers with machines, computers and robots as they possibly can.  As technology continues to advance at a blistering pace, the need for workers (especially low-skilled workers) will continue to decrease.  Unfortunately, the jobs that are being lost to technology are not coming back any time soon.

Thirdly, the overall U.S. economy has been steadily declining for more than a decade.  If you doubt this, just read this article.  As our economy continues to get weaker, the lack of jobs is going to become a bigger and bigger problem.

And as our economy systematically loses good jobs, more Americans are forced to become dependent on the government.

Back in 1979, there was about one American on food stamps for every manufacturing job.  Today, there are about four Americans on food stamps for every manufacturing job.

When I first found that statistic I was absolutely stunned.  How in the world can anyone out there deny that the U.S. economy is collapsing?

But as I mentioned above, it isn’t just that the number of jobs is not what it should be.  The quality of our jobs is declining as well.  For example, one study found that between 1969 and 2009 the wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.

That is a pretty stunning decline.  And it has only accelerated in recent years.  Median household income (adjusted for inflation) has fallen by 7.8 percent since the year 2000, and the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in the United States is near an all-time record low.

Most Americans are finding that their bills just keep going up but their paychecks are not.  This is causing the middle class to wither away, and most families are just trying to survive from month to month at this point.  In fact, according to one recent survey 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

So where do we go from here?

To some people the answer is simple.  They say that we should substantially raise the minimum wage.  And yes, that would definitely make life a bit better for lots of low paid workers out there, but it would also have some very negative side effects.  A substantially higher minimum wage would mean higher prices at retail stores and restaurants, and it would also greatly increase the incentive that corporations have to replace American workers with foreign workers or with technology.  We already have rampant unemployment in this country, and right now there are more than 100 million working age Americans that do not have a job.  We certainly don’t want to make that worse.

So raising the minimum wage would not solve our problems.  It would just redistribute our problems.

What we really need to do is to return to the principles that once made this country great.  In early America, we protected our markets with high tariffs.  Access to the U.S. market was a privilege.  Foreign domination was kept out, and our economy thrived.

It is definitely not “conservative” and it should not be “liberal” to stand by and watch millions upon millions of our good jobs get shipped over to communist China.  We need more “economic patriots” in America today, but unfortunately they appear to be a minority at this point.

And once upon a time the U.S. economy was actually a free market system where rules, regulations and red tape were kept to a minimum.  Our nation blossomed under such a system.  Sadly, today we have become a nation that literally has millions of laws, rules and regulations.  The control freaks seem to run everything.  In fact, the Obama administration recently forced one small-time magician out in Missouri to submit a 32 page disaster plan for the little rabbit that he uses in his magic shows for kids.  That is a very humorous example, but it is a perfect illustration of how absurd our system has become.

Another thing we could do to turn this around would be to get rid of the IRS and the income tax.  Did you know that the greatest period of economic growth in U.S. history was during a time when there was absolutely no income tax?  If you doubt this, just read this article.

And of course probably the most important thing that we could do for our economy would be to get rid of the Federal Reserve.  The Fed is a massive Ponzi scheme and it has played a primary role in creating almost every single financial bubble in the post-World War II era.  Right now we are living in the greatest bond bubble in the history of the planet, and when that Fed-created bubble bursts the pain is going to be absolutely excruciating.  In addition, the value of our currency has declined by over 96 percent and the size of the U.S. national debt has gotten more than 5000 times larger since the Fed was created.  The Federal Reserve is at the very heart of our economic problems, and we desperately need to shut it down.

Unfortunately, our politicians are not even willing to consider these solutions, and most Americans are way too busy watching Toddlers & Tiaras, Honey Boo Boo and other mindless television programs to be bothered with the real problems that our country is facing.

So needless to say, the great economic storm that is coming is not going to be averted.  Most of the country is still asleep, and most people are going to get absolutely blindsided by the economic nightmare that is rapidly approaching.