Did you know that 89 percent of all minimum wage workers in the United States are not teens? At this point, the average age of a minimum wage worker in this country is 36, and 56 percent of them are women. Millions upon millions of Americans are working as hard as they can (often that means two or three jobs), and yet despite all of their hard work they still find themselves mired in poverty. One of the big reasons for this is that we have created two classes of workers in the United States. “Full-time workers” are entitled to an array of benefits and protections by law that “part-time workers” do not get. And thanks to perverse incentives contained in Obamacare and other ridiculous laws, we have motivated employers to move as many workers from the “full-time” category to the “part-time” category as possible. It may be hard to believe, but right now only 44 percent of all U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week. But to get any kind of a job at all is a real challenge in many parts of the country today. As you read this article, there are more than 100 million working age Americans that are not employed in any capacity. And according to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if the federal government was actually using honest numbers the unemployment rate would be sitting at 23 percent. That is not an “employment recovery” – that is a national crisis.
The following infographic comes from the Economic Policy Institute. I certainly do not agree with a lot of the things that the Economic Policy Institute stands for, but I think that these numbers do accurately reflect what “part-time America” looks like today…
So what is the solution to this problem?
Most Democrats believe that raising the minimum wage would fix this. But as Zero Hedge has pointed out, it isn’t quite that simple…
Last week, we noted that Democratic lawmakers in the US are pushing for what they call “$12 by ’20” which, as the name implies, is an effort to raise the minimum wage to $12/hour over the course of the next five years. Republicans argue that if Democrats got their wish and the pay floor were increased by nearly 70%, it would do more harm than good for low-income Americans as the number of jobs that would be lost as a result of employers cutting back in the face of dramatically higher labor costs would offset the benefit that accrues to the workers who are lucky enough to keep their jobs.
Yes, raising the minimum wage would make life better for many minimum wage workers in America. But a large number of them would also lose their jobs completely, and a lot of small businesses would deeply suffer financially.
Ideally, what we would love to see happen is for the U.S. economy to be producing so many good jobs that the only people that are looking for entry-level part-time jobs would be teens, people just starting out in the workforce, etc. Back when I was a teen, I remember walking into a McDonald’s and getting hired on the spot because they were in dire need of workers. Sadly, those days are long, long gone.
Over the past several decades, millions of good paying American jobs have been shipped overseas, and millions more have been lost to advancing technology. And as I wrote about the other day, Barack Obama is deeply betraying American workers by working on a global economic treaty that would destroy millions more good paying jobs.
Thanks to the foolishness of our politicians, there is now intense competition even for minimum wage jobs at this point.
We keep hearing about an “employment recovery”, but it is a giant lie. Posted below is a chart of the civilian employment to population ratio. As you can see, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is much, much lower than it used to be…
In recent months, we have seen the employment-population ratio move slightly higher. But can this be called “an employment recovery”? Of course not. We are still way, way below the level that we were at just prior to the last recession, and now the next recession is just about upon us.
Meanwhile, the quality of our jobs continues to decline as more Americans are being pushed into “part-time work” with each passing year.
Since February of 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people. But during that same time frame, the number of full-time jobs in this country has actually decreased.
And at this point, the majority of American workers simply do not make enough money to support a middle class family. The following income numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration…
-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.
-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.
-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.
Are you starting to see why I am so fired up about all of this?
We have developed a business culture in this country which does not care about workers. In business schools all over America, future executives are taught that a corporation only has one goal – to maximize wealth for the shareholders. Taking care of those that are part of your team is treated as an afterthought at best.
As corporations have gotten bigger, they have shown less and less concern for those that work for them. These days, employees are generally regarded as “expensive liabilities” that are to be discarded the moment that their usefulness has come to an end. And news of layoffs is often rewarded by Wall Street by a surge in the stock prices of the companies making those layoffs.
In the old days, more businesses in America were family-owned, and employees were often regarded as almost “part of the family”. Unfortunately, those days have disappeared forever.
Now, employees are treated like scum by many big companies, and if they don’t like how they are being treated they are told that they can leave. For example, just consider what was going on at a security company down in Florida…
Jose Molero worked as a site inspector for the company, which provides security for neighborhoods and companies across the country, for more than a year.
Molero says when he went to the Kensington Golf and Country Club guardhouse, he found wooden paddles on a desk, some with staff names on them and one reading “for staff discipline.”
He says there was also what is called a “Wall of Shame,” where the supervisor points out and posts reports that contain grammatical errors.
When Molero complained about these things to his district manager, he was told that if anyone was offended “maybe they shouldn’t work here”…
Molero contacted his operations manager, who told him to speak with the district manager. He says the district manager sent him an email response that said, “if that hurts their feelings then maybe they shouldn’t work here.”
Do you have a similar horror story to share?
Most of us do.
The U.S. economy is absolutely dominated by cold, heartless corporations that have no interest in listening to the little guy. If they could find a way to do it, many of them would operate with no low-level employees at all. And as technology continues to advance, they will replace as many of us as they can with robots, drones, machines and computers.
I’ll be honest with you – the future for workers in America looks really bleak. The competition for any jobs that can’t be shipped overseas or replaced by technology is going to become even more heated. This means that the middle class is going to get even smaller, the number of Americans dependent on the government is going to continue to explode, and the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is going to become even greater.
So what is the solution to this giant mess? Please feel free to tell us what you think by posting a comment below…
On Friday, we learned that the official “unemployment rate” has fallen to 5.5 percent. Since an unemployment rate of 5 percent is considered to be “full employment” by many economists, many in the mainstream media took this as a sign that the U.S. economy has almost fully “recovered” since the last recession. In fact, according to the Wall Street Journal, some Federal Reserve officials believe that “the U.S. economy is already at full employment“. But how can this possibly be? It certainly does not square with reality. Personally, I know people that have been struggling with unemployment for years and that still cannot find a decent job. And I get emails from readers all the time that are heartbroken because they are suffering through extended periods of unemployment. So what in the world is going on? How can the government be telling us that we are nearly at “full employment” when so many people can’t find work? Could it be possible that the government numbers are misleading?
It is my contention that the official “unemployment rate” has become so politicized and so manipulated that it is essentially meaningless at this point. The following are 10 reasons why…
#1 Since February 2008, the size of the U.S. population has grown by 16.8 million people, but the number of full-time jobs has actually decreasedby 140,000.
#2 The percentage of working age Americans that have a job right now is still about the same as it was during the depths of the last recession. Posted below is a chart that shows how the employment-population ratio has changed since the beginning of the decade. Does this look like a full-blown “employment recovery” to you?…
#3 The primary reason for the decline in the official “unemployment rate” is the fact that the government now considers millions upon millions of long-term unemployed workers to “no longer be in the labor force”. Just check out the following numbers…
The number of Americans participating in the labor force has been on a decline for the past few years. Nearly 33 percent of the Americans above age 16 are not part of the workforce, the highest number since 1978. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) report issued recently has found 92,898,000 Americans above age 16 not a part of the labor force of the country as on February 2015.
When President Obama took over the office in January 2009, nearly 80,529,000 Americans were not a part of the labor force. The number has increase by nearly 12 million over the last few years.
#4 Over the past couple of years, the labor force participation rate in this country has been hovering near mutli-decade lows…
The labor force participation rate hovered between 62.9 percent and 62.7 percent in the eleven months from April 2014 through February, and has been 62.9 percent or lower in 13 of the 17 months since October 2013.
Prior to that, the last time the rate was below 63 percent was 37 years ago, in March 1978 when it was 62.8 percent, the same rate it was in February.
#5 When you add the number of “officially unemployed” Americans (8.7 million) to the number of Americans “not in the labor force” (92.9 million), you get a grand total of 101.6 million working age Americans that do not have a job right now. Does that sound like “full employment” to you?
#6 The quality of our jobs continues to decline. Right now, only 44 percent of U.S. adults are employed for 30 or more hours each week.
#7 Millions upon millions of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because that is all they can find, and wages for American workers are at depressingly low levels. The following numbers come directly from the Social Security Administration…
-39 percent of American workers make less than $20,000 a year.
-52 percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year.
-63 percent of American workers make less than $40,000 a year.
-72 percent of American workers make less than $50,000 a year.
#8 The average duration of unemployment for an unemployed worker is still about twice as long as it was just prior to the last recession.
#9 Most Americans feel as though the Obama administration has done little to nothing to help the middle class. Just consider the following poll numbers…
Seventy-two percent of respondents said government policies have done little or nothing to help the middle class, and 65 percent said they have done nothing to help the poor. Sixty-eight percent said the policies have done nothing to help small businesses.
Meanwhile, 45 percent said the policies have done a “great deal” to help large banks and financial institutions, 38 percent say they have helped large corporations, and 36 percent say they have helped the wealthy.
#10 If the unemployment rate was calculated honestly, we would all be talking about the horrific “unemployment crisis” that we were currently enduring. According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, the real unemployment rate in the United States right now is above 23 percent.
Our politicians and the mainstream media are attempting to convince us that everything is just fine.
But what they are telling us simply does not match the cold, hard reality on the streets.
And since the talking heads on television are proclaiming that we are nearly at “full employment”, that just makes millions upon millions of Americans that can’t seem to find work no matter how hard they try feel even worse than they already do.
If jobs are “easy to get”, then those that are chronically unemployment must have “something wrong” with them. That is the message that we are being given. If the mainstream media says that unemployment has gone way down, then anyone that is still unemployed must be really “lazy”, right?
When you are unemployed for an extended period of time, it can really suck the life right out of you. It can be really tempting to believe that you are viewed as a failure by your family and friends. And for the government to lie to us like this just makes things even harder.
If you are unemployed and can’t find a job right now, I want you to understand that you are caught in the midst of a long-term downward economic spiral which is going to get a lot worse.
When the government tells you that we are in a “recovery”, they are lying to you.
And when the government tells you that things are about to get a lot better, they are lying to you.
Everyone has times in their lives when they get knocked down.
The key is to always get back up and to never, ever stop fighting.
Yes, we are facing some really hard economic times. But that does not mean that your life is over. Never give up, and never give in to fear. Just do what you can with what you have today, and tomorrow get up and fight with everything that you have got.
The truth is that the best chapters of your life could be just around the corner.
Just don’t sit back and wait for the government to save you. If you are waiting for the government to save you, then you are going to be deeply disappointed.
Jim Clifton, the Chairman and CEO of Gallup, says that the percentage of Americans that are employed full-time has been hovering near record lows since the end of the last recession. But most Americans don’t realize this because the official unemployment numbers are extremely misleading. In fact, Clifton says that the official 5.6 percent unemployment rate is a “big lie”. Gallup regularly tracks the percentage of U.S. adults that are employed for 30 or more hours per week, and it is currently at 44.2 percent. It has been hovering between 42 percent and 45 percent since the end of 2009. This is extremely low. As I discussed the other day, there are 8.69 million Americans that are considered to be “officially unemployed” at this point. But there are another 92.90 million Americans that are considered to be “not in the labor force”. Millions upon millions of those Americans would work if they could. Overall, there are 101 million U.S. adults that do not have a job right now. But you won’t hear that number being discussed by the mainstream media, because it would make Barack Obama look really bad.
Most Americans just assume that the economic numbers that we are being given accurately reflect reality. That is why it is so refreshing to have men like Jim Clifton step forward and tell the truth. His recent article entitled “The Big Lie: 5.6% Unemployment” is making headlines all over America. The following is an extended excerpt from that article…
There’s another reason why the official rate is misleading. Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or healthcare worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work in a week and are paid at least $20 — maybe someone pays you to mow their lawn — you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much-reported 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
Yet another figure of importance that doesn’t get much press: those working part time but wanting full-time work. If you have a degree in chemistry or math and are working 10 hours part time because it is all you can find — in other words, you are severely underemployed — the government doesn’t count you in the 5.6%. Few Americans know this.
There’s no other way to say this. The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.
And it’s a lie that has consequences, because the great American dream is to have a good job, and in recent years, America has failed to deliver that dream more than it has at any time in recent memory. A good job is an individual’s primary identity, their very self-worth, their dignity — it establishes the relationship they have with their friends, community and country. When we fail to deliver a good job that fits a citizen’s talents, training and experience, we are failing the great American dream.
Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the U.S. is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.
And Gallup is being extremely generous.
I certainly would not define a 30 hour a week job at minimum wage as a “good job”, but Gallup does.
So the truth is that the percentage of U.S. adults that do have “good jobs” is actually far lower than 44 percent.
In the video that I have posted below, there is much more from Clifton about our current employment crisis…
Pretty strong stuff.
But Clifton also understands that there is danger in speaking out like this.
For example, just check out what he told CNBC during one recent interview…
“I think that the number that comes out of BLS [Bureau of Labor Statistics] and the Department of Labor is very, very accurate. I need to make that very, very clear so that I don’t suddenly disappear. I need to make it home tonight.”
So why are there so few good jobs for Americans?
Well, for one thing, our control freak politicians have absolutely murdered job creation in the United States.
Traditionally, small businesses have been the primary engine of job growth for the U.S. economy. But for each of the past six years, the number of new businesses being created has been lower than the number of businesses that have died.
Prior to 2008, we had never seen this happen before in all of U.S. history.
A confluence of factors are coming together to create a perfect storm that is going to be extremely bitter for American workers.
Spending our wealth is not a path to prosperity. We have got to create wealth in order to be a prosperous nation.
But instead, we continue to buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us. We just learned that the trade deficit increased to 46.6 billion dollars in December, and the total trade deficit for the year was more than half a trillion dollars.
This is complete and utter insanity, but at this point the trade deficit is not even a political issue for either major political party anymore.
And the really bad news is that this is about as good as things are going to get for the U.S. economy. The next major economic downturn is right around the corner, and our employment crisis is going to get much, much worse once that strikes.
Already, layoffs in January were 17.6 percent higher than they were in January a year ago and businesses all over the country are shutting down following a very disappointing holiday season.
In addition, the Baltic Dry Index has dropped to stunningly low levels. In fact, it is already lower than it was at any point during the last recession. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Mac Slavo…
The Baltic Dry Index (BDI) is used by economists and stock traders alike as a leading economic indicator because it predicts future economic activity. The index tracks in US dollars and measures global supply and demand for commodity shipments among bulk carriers including raw materials like lumber, coal, metallic ores, and grains. What makes this particular measurement so distinct from others, according to economic Howard Simmons, is that the BDI “is totally devoid of speculative content” because “people don’t book freighters unless they have cargo to move.”
On Thursday, the Baltic Dry Index was sitting at 564, That is not too far above the record low level of 554 that was established in July 1986.
So don’t be fooled by all the happy talk from the mainstream media and from politicians like Barack Obama.
They are lying to you, and their lies will soon be evident for all the world to see.
The gravy train is over for oil workers. All over North America, people that felt very secure about their jobs just a few weeks ago are now getting pink slips. There are even some people that I know personally that this has happened to. The economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs, and as long as the price of oil stays down at this level the job losses are going to continue. But this is what happens when a “boom” turns into a “bust”. Since 2003, drilling and extraction jobs in the United States have doubled. And these jobs typically pay very well. It is not uncommon for oil patch workers to make well over $100,000 a year, and these are precisely the types of jobs that we cannot afford to be losing. The middle class is struggling mightily as it is. And just like we witnessed in 2008, oil industry layoffs usually come before a downturn in employment for the overall economy. So if you think that it is tough to find a good job in America right now, you definitely will not like what comes next.
At one time, I encouraged those that were desperate for employment to check out states like North Dakota and Texas that were experiencing an oil boom. Unfortunately, the tremendous expansion that we witnessed is now reversing…
In states like North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, which have reaped the benefits of a domestic oil boom, the retrenchment is beginning.
“Drilling budgets are being slashed across the board,” said Ron Ness, president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council, which represents more than 500 companies working in the state’s Bakken oil patch.
Smaller budgets and less extraction activity means less jobs.
Often, the loss of a job in this industry can come without any warning whatsoever. Just check out the following example from a recent Bloomberg article…
The first thing oilfield geophysicist Emmanuel Osakwe noticed when he arrived back at work before 8 a.m. last month after a short vacation was all the darkened offices.
By that time of morning, the West Houston building of his oilfield services company was usually bustling with workers. A couple hours later, after a surprise call from Human Resources, Osakwe was adding to the emptiness: one of thousands of energy industry workers getting their pink slips as crude prices have plunged to less than $50 a barrel.
These jobs are not easy to replace. If oil industry veterans go down to the local Wal-Mart to get jobs, they will end up making only a very small fraction of what they once did. Every one of these jobs that gets lost is really going to hurt.
And at this point, the job losses in the oil industry are threatening to become an avalanche. The following are 12 signs that the economy is really starting to bleed oil patch jobs…
#1 It is being projected that the U.S. oil rig count will decline by 15 percent in the first quarter of 2015 alone. And when there are less rigs operating, less workers are needed so people get fired.
#3 Oilfield services provider Baker Hughes has announced that it plans to lay off 7,000 workers.
#4 Schlumberger, a big player in the energy industry, has announced plans to get rid of 9,000 workers.
#5 Suncor Energy is eliminating 1,000 workers from their oil projects up in Canada.
#6 Halliburton’s energy industry operations have slowed down dramatically, so they gave pink slips to 1,000 workers last month.
#7 Diamondback Energy just slashed their capital expenditure budget 40 percent to just $450 million.
#8 Elevation Resources plans to cut their capital expenditure budget from $227 million to $100 million.
#9 Concho Resources says that it plans to reduce the number of rigs that it is operating from 35 to 25.
#10 Tullow Oil has reduced their exploration budget from approximately a billion dollars to about 200 million dollars.
#11 Henry Resources President Danny Campbell has announced that his company is reducing activity “by up to 40 percent“.
#12 The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas is projecting that 140,000 jobs related to the energy industry will be lost in the state of Texas alone during 2015.
And of course it isn’t just workers that are going to suffer.
Some states are extremely dependent on oil revenues. Just take the state of Alaska for instance. According to one recent news report, 90 percent of the budget of Alaska comes from oil revenue…
But oil is also a revenue source in more than two dozen states, especially for about a third of them. In Alaska, where up to 90 percent of the budget is funded by oil, new Gov. Bill Walker has ordered agency heads to start identifying spending cuts.
Sadly, it looks like oil is not going to rebound any time soon.
China, the biggest user of oil in the world, just reported that economic growth expanded at the slowest pace in 24 years. And concerns about oversupply drove the price of U.S. crude down another couple of dollars on Monday…
Oil declined about 5 percent on Tuesday after the International Monetary Fund cut its 2015 global economic forecast on lower fuel demand and key producer Iran hinted prices could drop to $25 a barrel without supportive OPEC action.
U.S. crude, also known as West Texas Intermediate or WTI, settled 4.7 percent lower at $46.39 a barrel, near its intraday bottom of $46.23.
There is only one other time in history when we have seen an oil price crash of this magnitude.
That was in 2008, just before the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Many believe that we are now on the verge of the next great financial crisis.
The 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…
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.
The 30 statistics that you are about to read prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. 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 staggering pace. Yes, the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights this year and there are a few isolated areas of the country that are doing rather well for the moment. But overall, the long-term trends that are eviscerating the middle class just continue to accelerate. Over the past decade or so, the percentage of Americans that are working has gone way down, the quality of our jobs has plummeted dramatically and the wealth of the typical American household has fallen precipitously. Meanwhile, we have watched median household income decline for five years in a row, we have watched the rate of homeownership in this country decline for eight years in a row and dependence on the government is at an all-time high. Being a part of the middle class in the United States at this point can be compared to playing a game of musical chairs. We can all see chairs being removed from the game, and we are all desperate to continue to have a chair every time the music stops playing. The next time the music stops, will it be your chair that gets removed?
And in this economy, you don’t even have to lose your job to fall out of the middle class. Our paychecks are remaining very stable while the cost of almost everything that we spend money on consistently (food, gas, health insurance, etc.) is going up rapidly. Bloomberg calls this “the no-raises recovery”…
Call it the no-raises recovery: Five years of economic expansion have done almost nothing to boost paychecks for typical American workers while the rich have gotten richer.
Meager improvements since 2009 have barely kept up with a similarly tepid pace of inflation, raising the real value of compensation per hour by only 0.5 percent. That marks the weakest growth since World War II, with increases averaging 9.2 percent at a similar point in past expansions, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data compiled by Bloomberg.
There are so many families out there that are struggling right now. So many husbands and wives find themselves constantly fighting with one another about money, and they don’t even understand that what is happening to them is the result of long-term economic trends that are the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions. Without middle class jobs, we cannot have a middle class. And those are precisely the jobs that have been destroyed during the Clinton, Bush and Obama years. Without enough good jobs to go around, we have seen the middle class steadily shrink and the ranks of the poor grow rapidly.
The following are 30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed…
1. In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall. But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.
2. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.
5.79 percent of the people that use food banks purchase “inexpensive, unhealthy food just to have enough to feed their families”.
6. One out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is “in collections“.
7. Only 48 percent of all Americans can immediately come up with $400 in emergency cash without borrowing it or selling something.
8. The price of food continues to rise much faster than the paychecks of most middle class families. For example, the average price of ground beef has just hit a brand new all-time record high of $3.884 a pound.
9. According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now.
10. The overall homeownership rate has fallen to the lowest level since 1995.
11. The homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
12. According to one recent survey, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.
13. The average age of vehicles on America’s roads has hit an all-time high of 11.4 years.
27. Ten years ago, the number of women in the U.S. that had jobs outnumbered the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps by more than a 2 to 1 margin. But now the number of women in the U.S. on food stamps actually exceeds the number of women that have jobs.
If you are fortunate enough to have a job in America today, the phrase “just over broke” probably describes you. Yes, there are a handful of jobs that certainly pay very well, but most Americans that work for somebody else are just barely making it from month to month. More than half of all working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year. That is an amazing statistic but it is actually true. Once upon a time, anyone that was responsible and that was willing to work hard could get a good job in America. But now those days are long gone. Instead, we live at a time when good jobs are disappearing and when the middle class is getting smaller with each passing year. In some homes, the husband and the wife are both working multiple jobs and they can still barely pay their bills. Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet our leaders just keep telling us how wonderful our economy is.
One of the biggest things that has killed jobs in this country is the fact that the U.S. economy has been steadily merged into the emerging one world economic system over the past several decades. They call it “free trade”, but they never told us that we would be merged into a single global labor pool where we would be competing directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
That means that there are a whole lot of really poor, really desperate people that need to be employed.
This has been wonderful for the big corporations. They can just take jobs away from American workers and give them to people who are willing to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make. This has resulted in the systematic deindustrialization of the United States and horrific decline in dozens of formerly great manufacturing cities.
At the same time, we have also been losing millions of middle class jobs to technology. At this point, robots are even starting to replace warehouse workers and fast food employees. As robots become even more advanced and become even cheaper to produce, there will be less jobs available for the rest of us.
And what happens when robots can do everything better than us?
Because there are fewer middle class jobs available, the competition for the remaining jobs has become incredibly intense. In recent years, millions of Americans have been forced to take just about anything that they can get. For those Americans, “just over broke” has become “just trying to survive” as they scratch and claw their way through life.
A recent CNBC article profiled one such individual. His name is Ken Bowman, and his job at a guitar shop just barely enables him to pay his rent and feed himself…
Ken Bowman joins the line for a free lunch in the Youngstown Salvation Army canteen, just like he does every Friday.
Looking younger than his 21 years, his hair dyed jet black and wearing big, battered boots, Bowman plays heavy metal on his cell phone. He chooses a seat at the end of a table and sits hunched over his tray, his blues eyes furtively sweeping the room. The others sit in packs, regulars who’ve formed lunchtime friendships over their burnt coffee and peppered corn, discussing the jobs they once had and the government benefits they no longer get.
Bowman is sensitive to the stigma of accepting handouts like lunch. “[It] doesn’t mean you’re homeless or poor, people have standards but they struggle,” he said, his chin jutting out, his eyes glowering.
After paying his rent, Bowman says his job in a guitar shop leaves him with $50 a month to live on — if he can get shifts. He is one of America’s “underemployed,” a group of as many as 11 million Americans struggling to survive in society’s shadows on wages that put them below the federal poverty line.
There are millions of others out there just like Bowman. In fact, as I mentioned in a previous article, one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line. The “working poor” is a phrase that describes a very large segment of the U.S. population today.
And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of the country is steadily getting poorer. According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago. That is a staggering decline in just ten years.
Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise. This is something that I have discussed repeatedly, but sometimes a picture can say things far better than any words can.
The photo posted below has been floating around on Twitter. It is of a McDonald’s menu from the 1960s. As you can see, prices have gone up a little bit since then…
Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I can remember a cup of coffee being sold for a quarter when I was young. But it is true. Over the long-term, our purchasing power has been systematically destroyed by the insane polices of the Federal Reserve.
Sadly, most Americans don’t understand any of this. They just trust that our leaders actually know what they are doing. Meanwhile, they just keep on struggling to survive in an economic system that is stacked against them.
According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now and the homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.
In the old days, if you got your education, worked hard and did all the right things, it was just about an automatic ticket to the middle class.
Today it doesn’t work like that.
Instead, more Americans than ever are being forced to become dependent on the government. If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.
So it astounds me whenever I hear anyone say that the economy is in “good shape”.
There are already more than 101 million working age Americans that are not employed and 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that has a job. So what in the world are we going to do when robots start taking millions upon millions more of our jobs? Thanks to technology, the balance of power between employers and workers in this country is shifting dramatically in favor of the employers. These days, many employers are wondering why they are dealing with so many human worker “headaches” when they can just use technology to get the same tasks done instead. When you replace a human worker with a robot, you solve a whole bunch of problems. Robots never take a day off, they never get tired, they never get sick, they never complain, they never show up late, they never waste time on the Internet and they always do what you tell them to do. In addition, robotic technology has advanced to the point where it is actually cheaper to buy robots than it is to hire humans for a vast variety of different tasks. From the standpoint of societal efficiency, this is a good thing. But what happens when robots are able to do just about everything less expensively and more efficiently than humans can? Where will our jobs come from?
And this is not something that is coming at some point in “the future”.
This is already happening.
According to CNN, there will be 10,000 robots working to fulfill customer orders in Amazon.com warehouses by the end of 2014…
Amazon will be using 10,000 robots in its warehouses by the end of the year.
CEO Jeff Bezos told investors at a shareholder meeting Wednesday that he expects to significantly increase the number of robots used to fulfill customer orders.
Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love Amazon. And if robots can get me my stuff faster and less expensively that sounds great.
But what if everyone starts using these kinds of robots?
What will that do to warehouse jobs?
PC World has just done a report on a new warehouse robot known as “UBR-1″. This robot is intended to perform tasks “normally done by human workers”…
The UBR-1 is a 4-foot tall, one-armed robot that could make warehouses and factories more efficient by performing tasks normally done by human workers.
Unlike the industrial robots widely used in manufacturing today—usually large machines isolated from people for safety reasons—this robot can work alongside humans or autonomously in a workspace filled with people.
This little robot costs $50,000, and it can work all day and all night. It just needs a battery change every once in a while. The creators of this robot envision it performing a vast array of different tasks…
“We see the robot as doing tasks, they could be dull, they could be dirty, they could be dangerous and doing them repetitively all day in a light manufacturing environment,” said Melonee Wise, Unbounded Robotics CEO and co-founder. Those tasks include stocking shelves, picking up objects and assembling parts.
The UBR-1 isn’t designed for small component assembly, but it can manipulate objects as small as dice or a Lego piece, Wise said. Unbounded Robotics is targeting companies that want some automation to speed up their manufacturing process, but can’t afford to fully automate their businesses.
To many people this may sound very exciting.
But what if a robot like that took your job?
Would it be exciting then?
Of course you can’t outlaw robots. And you can’t force companies to hire human workers.
But we could potentially have major problems in our society as jobs at the low end of the wage scale quickly disappear.
According to CNN, restaurants all over the nation are going to automated service, and a recent University of Oxford study concluded that there is a 92 percent chance that most fast food jobs will be automated in the coming years…
Panera Bread is the latest chain to introduce automated service, announcing last month that it plans to bring self-service ordering kiosks as well as a mobile ordering option to all its locations within the next three years. The news follows moves from Chili’s and Applebee’s to place tablets on their tables, allowing diners to order and pay without interacting with human wait staff at all.
Panera, which spent $42 million developing its new system, claims it isn’t planning any job cuts as a result of the technology, but some analysts see this kind of shift as unavoidable for the industry.
In a widely cited paper released last year, University of Oxford researchers estimated that there is a 92% chance that fast-food preparation and serving will be automated in the coming decades.
Delivery drivers could be replaced en masse by self-driving cars, which are likely to hit the market within a decade or two, or even drones. In food preparation, there are start-ups offering robots for bartending and gourmet hamburger preparation. A food processing company in Spain now uses robots to inspect heads of lettuce on a conveyor belt, throwing out those that don’t meet company standards, the Oxford researchers report.
Could you imagine such a world?
When self-driving vehicles take over, what will happen to the 3.1 million Americans that drive trucks for a living?
Our planet is changing at a pace that is almost inconceivable.
Over the past decade, the big threat to our jobs has been workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.
But now even those workers are having their jobs taken away by robots. For example, just check out what is happening in China…
The company is allegedly paying $25,000 per robot – about three times a worker’s average salary – and they will replace humans in assembly tasks. The plans have been in place for a while – I spoke to Foxconn reps about this a year ago – and it makes perfect sense. Humans are messy, they want more money, and having a half-a-million of them in one factory is a recipe for unrest. But what happens after the halls are clear of careful young men and women and instead full of whirring robots?
Perhaps you think that your job could never be affected because you do something that requires a “human touch” like caring for the elderly.
Well, according to Reuters, robots are moving into that arena as well…
Imagine you’re 85, and living alone. Your children are halfway across the country, and you’re widowed. You have a live-in aide – but it’s not human. Your personal robot reminds you to take your medicine, monitors your diet and exercise, plays games with you, and even helps you connect with family members on the Internet.
And robots are even threatening extremely skilled professions such as doctors. For instance, just check out this excerpt from a Bloomberg article entitled “Doctor Robot Will See You Shortly“…
Johnson & Johnson proposes to replace anesthesiologists during simple procedures such as colonoscopies — not with nurse practitioners, but with machines. Sedasys, which dispenses propofol and monitors a patient automatically, was recently approved for use in healthy adult patients who have no particular risk of complications. Johnson & Johnson will lease the machines to doctor’s offices for $150 per procedure — cleverly set well below the $600 to $2,000 that anesthesiologists usually charge.
And this is just the beginning. In a previous article, I discussed the groundbreaking study by Dr. Carl Frey and Dr. Michael Osborne of Oxford University which came to the conclusion that 47 percent of all U.S. jobs could be automated within the next 20 years.
That is crazy.
What will the middle class do as their jobs are taken away?
The world that we live in is becoming a radically different place than the one that we grew up in.
The robots are coming, and they are going to take millions of our jobs.
So what do you think of this robot invasion? Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
Why are so many young adults in America living with their parents? According to a stunning Gallup survey that was recently released, nearly three out of every ten adults in the United States under the age of 35 are still living at home with Mom and Dad. This closely lines up with a Pew Research Center analysis of Census data that looked at a younger sample of Americans which found that 36 percent of Americans 18 to 31 years old were still living with their parents. That was the highest level that had ever been recorded. Overall, approximately 25 million U.S. adults are currently living at home with their parents according to Time Magazine. So what is causing all of this? Well, there are certainly a lot of factors. Overwhelming student loan debt, a depressing lack of jobs and the high cost of living are all definitely playing a role. But many would argue that what we are witnessing goes far beyond temporary economic conditions. There are many that believe that we have fundamentally failed our young people and have neglected to equip them with the skills and values that they need to be successful in the real world.
More Americans than ever before seem to be living in a state of “perpetual adolescence”. As Gallup noted, one of the keys to adulthood is to be able to establish independence from your parents…
An important milestone in adulthood is establishing independence from one’s parents, including finding a job, a place to live and, for most, a spouse or partner, and starting one’s own family. However, there are potential roadblocks on the path to independence that may force young adults to live with their parents longer, including a weak job market, the high cost of living, significant college debt, and helping care for an elderly or disabled parent.
Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to become financially independent. While they are in high school, we endlessly pound into their heads the need to go to college. Then we urge them to take out whatever loans that they will need to pay for it, ensuring them that they will be able to get “good jobs” which will enable them to pay off those loans when they graduate.
Of course a very large percentage of them find that there aren’t any “good jobs” waiting for them when they graduate. But because of the crippling loans that they have accumulated, they quickly realize that they have decades of debt slavery ahead of them.
Just consider the following numbers about the growth of student loan debt in the United States…
-The total amount of student loan debt in the United States has risen to a brand new all-time record of 1.08 trillion dollars.
-Student loan debt accounted for 3.1 percent of all consumer debt in 2003. Today, it accounts for 9.4 percent of all consumer debt.
This is a student loan debt bubble unlike anything that we have ever seen before, and it seems to get worse with each passing year.
So when is the bubble going to finally burst?
Meanwhile, our young adults are still really struggling to find jobs.
For those in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket, it is getting even harder to find full-time employment. In June 2012, 47 percent of those in that entire age group had a full-time job. One year later, in June 2013, only 43.6 percent of that entire age group had a full-time job.
And in many ways, things are far tougher for those that didn’t finish college than for those that did. In fact, the unemployment rate for 27-year-old college dropouts is nearly three times as high as the unemployment rate for those that finished college.
In addition, since Barack Obama has been president close to 40 percent of all 27-year-olds have spent at least some time unemployed.
So it should be no surprise that 27-year-olds are really struggling financially. Only about one out of every five 27-year-olds owns a home at this point, and an astounding 80 percent of all 27-year-olds are in debt.
Even if a young adult is able to find a job, that does not mean that it will be enough to survive on. The quality of jobs in America continues to go downhill and so do wages.
The ratio of what men in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket are earning compared to what the general population is earning is at an all-time low, and American families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
No wonder so many young people are living at home. Trying to survive in the real world is not easy.
Many of those that are trying to make it on their own are really struggling to do so. Just consider the case of Kevin Burgos. He earns $10.50 an hour working as an assistant manager at a Dunkin Donuts location in Hartford, Connecticut. According to CNN, he can’t seem to make enough to support his family no matter how hard he works…
He works 35 hours each week to support his family of three young children. All told, Burgos makes about $1,800 each month.
But his bills for basic necessities, including rent for his two-bedroom apartment, gas for his car, diapers and visits to the doctor, add up to $2,400. To cover these expenses without falling short, Burgos would need to make at least $17 per hour.
“I am always worried about what I’m going to do for tomorrow,” Burgos said.
There are millions of young people out there that are pounding their heads against the wall month after month trying to work hard and do the right thing. Sometimes they get so frustrated that they snap. Just consider the following example…
Health officials have temporarily shut down a southern West Virginia pizza restaurant after a district manager was caught on surveillance video urinating into a sink.
Local media reported that the Mingo County health department ordered the Pizza Hut in Kermit, about 85 miles southwest of Charleston, to shut down.
But as I mentioned earlier, instead of blaming young people for their failures, perhaps we need to take a good, long look at how we have raised them.
The truth is that our public schools are a joke, SAT scores are at an all-time low, and we have pushed nearly all discussion of morality, values and faith out of the public square.
No wonder most of our young people are dumb as a rock and seem to have no moral compass.
Or could it be possible that I am being too hard on them?
Please feel free to share what you think by posting a comment below…