9 Of The Top 10 Occupations In America Pay An Average Wage Of Less Than $35,000 A Year

CashierAccording to stunning new numbers just released by the federal government, nine of the top ten most commonly held jobs in the United States pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year.  When you break that down, that means that most of these workers are making less than $3,000 a month before taxes.  And once you consider how we are being taxed into oblivion, things become even more frightening.  Can you pay a mortgage and support a family on just a couple grand a month?  Of course not.  In the old days, a single income would enable a family to live a very comfortable middle class lifestyle in most cases.  But now those days are long gone.  In 2014, both parents are expected to work, and in many cases both of them have to get multiple jobs just in order to break even at the end of the month.  The decline in the quality of our jobs is a huge reason for the implosion of the middle class in this country.  You can’t have a middle class without middle class jobs, and we have witnessed a multi-decade decline in middle class jobs in the United States.  As long as this trend continues, the middle class is going to continue to shrink.

The following is a list of the most commonly held jobs in America according to the federal government.  As you can see, 9 of the top 10 most commonly held occupations pay an average wage of less than $35,000 a year

  1. Retail salespersons, 4.48 million workers earning  $25,370
  2. Cashiers  3.34 million workers earning $20,420
  3. Food prep and serving staff, 3.02 million workers earning $18,880
  4. General office clerk, 2.83 million working earning $29,990
  5. Registered nurses, 2.66 million workers earning $68,910
  6. Waiters and waitresses, 2.40 million workers earning $20,880
  7. Customer service representatives, 2.39 million workers earning $33,370
  8. Laborers, and freight and material movers, 2.28 million workers earning $26,690
  9. Secretaries and admins (not legal or medical),  2.16 million workers earning $34,000
  10. Janitors and cleaners (not maids),  2.10 million workers earning, $25,140

Overall, an astounding 59 percent of all American workers bring home less than $35,000 a year in wages.

So if you are going to make more than $35,000 this year, you are solidly in the upper half.

But that doesn’t mean that you will always be there.

More Americans are falling out of the middle class with each passing day.

Just consider the case of a 47-year-old woman named Kristina Feldotte.  Together with her husband, they used to make about $80,000 a year.  But since she lost her job three years ago, their combined income has fallen to about $36,000 a year

Three years ago, Kristina Feldotte, 47, and her husband earned a combined $80,000. She considered herself solidly middle class. The couple and their four children regularly vacationed at a lake near their home in Saginaw, Michigan.

But in August 2012, Feldotte was laid off from her job as a special education teacher. She’s since managed to find only part-time teaching work. Though her husband still works as a truck salesman, their income has sunk by more than half to $36,000.

“Now we’re on the upper end of lower class,” Feldotte said.

There is a common assumption out there that if you “have a job” that you must be doing “okay”.

But that is not even close to the truth.

The reality of the matter is that you can even have two or three jobs and still be living in poverty.  In fact, you can even be working for the government or the military and still need food stamps

Since the start of the Recession, the dollar amount of food stamps used at military commissaries, special stores that can be used by active-duty, retired, and some veterans of the armed forces has quadrupled, hitting $103 million last year. Food banks around the country have also reported a rise in the number of military families they serve, numbers that swelled during the Recession and haven’t, or have barely, abated.

There are so many people that are really hurting out there.

Today, someone wrote to me about one of my recent articles about food price increases and told me about how produce prices were going through the roof in that particular area.  This individual wondered how ordinary families were going to be able to survive in this environment.

That is a very good question.

I don’t know how they are going to survive.

In some cases, the suffering that is going on behind closed doors is far greater than any of us would ever imagine.

And often, it is children that suffer the most

A Texas couple kept their bruised, malnourished 5-year-old son in a diaper and locked in a closet of their Spring home, police said in a horrifying case of abuse.

The tiny, blond-haired boy was severely underweight, his shoulder blades, ribs and vertebrae showing through his skin, when officers found him late last week.

You can see some photos of that poor little boy right here.

I hope that those abusive parents are put away for a very long time.

Sadly, there are lots of kids that are really suffering right now.  There are more than a million homeless schoolchildren in America, and there are countless numbers that will go to bed hungry tonight.

But if you live in wealthy enclaves on the east or west coasts, all of this may sound truly bizarre to you.  Where you live, you may look around and not see any poverty at all.  That is because America has become increasingly segregated by wealth.  Some are even calling this the “skyboxification of America”

The richest Americans—the much-talked about 1 percent—are a cloistered class. As the Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz scathingly put it, they “have the best houses, the best educations, the best doctors, and the best lifestyles, but there is one thing that money doesn’t seem to have bought: an understanding that their fate is bound up with how the other 99 percent live.” The Harvard political philosopher Michael Sandel has similarly lamented the “skyboxification” of American life, in which “people of affluence and people of modest means lead increasingly separate lives.”

The substantial and growing gap between the rich and everyone else is increasingly inscribed on our geography. There have always been affluent neighborhoods, gated enclaves, and fabled bastions of wealth like Greenwich, Connecticut; Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Potomac, Maryland; and Beverly Hills, California. But America’s bankers, lawyers, and doctors didn’t always live so far apart from teachers, accountants, and small business owners, who themselves weren’t always so segregated from the poorest, most struggling Americans.

Nobody should talk about an “economic recovery” until the middle class starts growing again.

Even as the stock market has soared to unprecedented heights over the past year, the decline of middle class America has continued unabated.

And most Americans know deep inside that something is deeply broken.  For example, a recent CNBC All-America Economic Survey found that over 80 percent of all Americans consider the economy to be “fair” or “poor”.

Yes, for the moment things are going quite well for the top 10 percent of the nation, but that won’t last long either.  None of the problems that caused the last great financial crisis have been fixed.  In fact, they have gotten even worse.  We are steamrolling toward another great financial crisis and our leaders are absolutely clueless.

When the next crisis strikes, the economic suffering in this nation is going to get even worse.

As bad as things are now, they are not even worth comparing to what is coming.

So I hope that you are getting prepared.  Time is running out.

 

Collecting Donations For Wal-Mart Employees That Cannot Afford Thanksgiving Dinner?

Wal-Mart Collecting Donations For Their Employees - Photo Courtesy Of OUR Wal-MartYou may find what is happening at one Wal-Mart in Ohio very hard to believe.  At the Wal-mart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton, Ohio employees are being asked to donate food items so that other employees that cannot afford to buy Thanksgiving dinner will be able to enjoy one too.  You can see a photo of the donation bins that has been posted on Twitter right here.  On the one hand, it is commendable that someone at that Wal-Mart is deeply concerned about the employees that are so poor that they cannot afford to buy the food that they need for Thanksgiving.  On the other hand, this is a perfect example that shows how the quality of the jobs in this country has gone down the toilet.  Wal-Mart is the largest employer in the United States and it had operating income of 26.5 billion dollars last year.  Wal-Mart is not required to pay their employees a decent wage, and it is very unlikely that anyone will force them to.  But they should.  Because Wal-Mart does not pay decent wages to their employees, the rest of us end up with the bill.  As you will see below, huge numbers of Wal-Mart employees end up on Medicaid and other government assistance programs.  Meanwhile, those that control Wal-Mart continue to enjoy absolutely massive profits.

The following is a short excerpt from a local news story about the donation bins that have been set out at the Wal-Mart in Canton, Ohio.  As the story notes, this does not appear to be a nationwide program, and the donation bins are only available in an employee-only area…

The storage containers are attractively displayed at the Walmart on Atlantic Boulevard in Canton. The bins are lined up in alternating colors of purple and orange. Some sit on tables covered with golden yellow tablecloths. Others peer out from under the tables.

This isn’t a merchandise display. It’s a food drive – not for the community, but for needy workers.

“Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” read signs affixed to the tablecloths.

It just seems really crazy that the largest employer in the country pays so little that some of their employees cannot even afford to eat Thanksgiving dinner.

Is this what the future of America is going to look like?

According to official Wal-Mart numbers, more than half of their hourly workers make less than $25,000 a year.

That breaks down to about $2,000 a month before taxes.

Could you survive on that?

Could you afford to support a family on that?

It turns out that a lot of Wal-Mart employees simply cannot get by without financial help from the government, and the numbers are staggering.  A recent Businessweek article discussed one study that found that 300 employees at just one Wal-Mart in Wisconsin actually receive a combined total of nearly a million dollars a year in public assistance…

“A decent wage is their demand—a livable wage, of all things,” said Representative George Miller (D-Calif.). The problem with companies like Wal-Mart is their “unwillingness, not their inability, to pay that wage,” he said. “They hand off the difference to taxpayers.” Miller was referring to a congressional report (PDF) released in May that calculated how much Walmart workers rely on public assistance. The study found that the 300 employees at one Supercenter in Wisconsin required some $900,000 worth of public assistance a year.

And according to Politifact, in many states Wal-Mart employees represent the largest single group of people enrolled in the Medicaid program…

In Florida, Wal-Mart topped all companies operating in Florida with the largest number of employees and family members (12,300) eligible for Medicaid, according to a 2005 Tampa Bay Times story. Wal-Mart also ranked highly (No. 2) for dependents enrolled in Florida Healthy Kids or KidCare, trailing Miami-Dade County employees.

In Missouri, where Wal-Mart is the largest employer behind state government, the state’s social services department determined Walmart employees outnumbered all others with employees and family members enrolled in MO HealthNet, the state’s Medicaid plan, in the first quarter of 2011. However, at almost 14 percent, it did not represent the highest percentage of workers enrolled or responsible for an enrollee (Dollar General, for instance, was much higher at 42 percent).

And in Pennsylvania, a 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer investigation revealed the company had the highest percentage of employees enrolled in Medicaid. One in six of Walmart’s 48,000 Pennsylvania employees were enrolled in Medicaid, costing the state about $15 million a year (it’s likely higher because the Inquirer’s story did not cover employees’ dependents on Medicaid, or any other public assistance such as food stamps).

This is a disgrace.

Your taxes and my taxes are going to subsidize Wal-Mart.

The government has to take more money from all the rest of us because Wal-Mart will not pay their workers a decent wage.  Because Wal-Mart will not support them, we end up supporting them.

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

So why do people still work there?

Well, because there is a huge shortage of jobs in this country.  As I noted yesterday, the total number of working age Americans without a job has increased by 27 million since the year 2000.

Right now we have a growing unemployment crisis in this country that is being seriously downplayed by the mainstream media.

According to John Williams of shadowstats.com, if long-term discouraged workers were still included in the official government employment figures like they were back in 1994, then the broadest measure of unemployment would now be approaching 25 percent.  In fact, according to his charts unemployment in the U.S. is now worse than it was at any point during the last recession.

And even the New York Times is admitting that long-term unemployment in America is up by 213 percent since 2007.

At this point, there are millions upon millions of desperate Americans that will take just about any job that they can get.

Meanwhile, the quality of the jobs in this country continues to go downhill very rapidly.

For example, did you know that about 40 percent of all U.S. workers actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968?

And did you know that 65 percent of all American workers make less than $40,000 a year before taxes?

For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Downhill Really Fast“.

At the same time, the good paying high tech jobs that our politicians have been promising us continue to disappear.  For instance, 19,507 biopharma jobs were eliminated between January 1, 2013 and October 31, 2013.  That is a 68 percent increase over the pace of biopharma job losses during the same period last year.

So are there any areas of the country that are actually doing well right now?

Well, yes there is.  In fact, the Washington D.C. region has added more “1 percent households” over the past decade than anyone else has…

The winners in the new Washington are not just the former senators, party consiglieri and four-star generals who have always profited from their connections. Now they are also the former bureaucrats, accountants and staff officers for whom unimagined riches are suddenly possible. They are the entrepreneurs attracted to the capital by its aura of prosperity and its super-educated workforce. They are the lawyers, lobbyists and executives who work for companies that barely had a presence in Washington before the boom.

During the past decade, the region added 21,000 households in the nation’s top 1 percent. No other metro area came close.

I used to live in the D.C. area, and I can tell you that the folks out there are living the high life at your expense.

In one recent article, I noted that the average federal employee living in the Washington D.C. area received total compensation worth more than $126,000 in one recent year.

Of course you and I are paying the bill for this too.  The U.S. national debt is on pace to more than double during the eight years of the Obama administration, and our politicians seem to have no trouble continuing to steal about 100 million dollars from our children and our grandchildren every single hour of every single day.

Meanwhile, thousands of other communities all over the nation are slowly being transformed into rotting, festering hellholes.  The following is an excerpt from a recent CNBC article that discussed what is happening to Trenton, New Jersey…

When a city is badly broken, it can be very tough to fix.

Just ask Darren Green, president of a coalition of community groups in Trenton, N.J., where deep budget cuts in 2011 forced the city to lay off a third of its police force.

“We’re at a place now where it’s very dangerous to walk the streets,” he said, his thoughts periodically interrupted by the distant sound of passing sirens. “The school system is dysfunctional and not working. You have young people who are robbing elders. Young people who are destroying communities. With no leadership and the community in disarray, there’s a lot of bad here.”

So what is happening in your neck of the woods?

And what do you think of the fact that donations are being collected for Wal-Mart employees that cannot afford Thanksgiving dinner?

Please feel free to share your opinion by posting a comment below…

15 Signs That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Downhill Really Fast

Wal-Mart - Photo by Arthur JacobTrying to find a job in America today can be an incredibly frustrating experience.  Most of the jobs that are available seem to pay very little, and there is intense competition for just about any job that is open.  But it wasn’t always like this.  When I was in high school, I was immediately hired when I applied for a job at McDonalds because they were so desperate for workers that they would hire just about anyone that could flip a burger.  But in this economic environment, a single nationwide hiring event conducted by McDonalds resulted in a million job applications, and only a small percentage of those applicants were actually hired.  Our economy simply does not produce enough jobs for everyone anymore, and the percentage of “good jobs” continues to decline.  That means that it is getting really hard to find a job that will enable you to support a family, and a lot of people end up doing jobs that they are massively overqualified for.  But when times are tough, people are going to do what they have to do in order to survive.

One thing that we have seen in recent years is an explosion in the number of “temp workers” in America.  Even some of the largest companies in America are using them.  They like the flexibility of being able to bring in workers when they need them and of being able to dump them the moment they don’t need them anymore.  Sadly, those that work in the “temp industry” often work in deplorable conditions for very little pay.  The following is a brief excerpt from an absolutely outstanding Pro Publica article

In cities all across the country, workers stand on street corners, line up in alleys or wait in a neon-lit beauty salon for rickety vans to whisk them off to warehouses miles away. Some vans are so packed that to get to work, people must squat on milk crates, sit on the laps of passengers they do not know or sometimes lie on the floor, the other workers’ feet on top of them.

This is not Mexico. It is not Guatemala or Honduras. This is Chicago, New Jersey, Boston.

The people here are not day laborers looking for an odd job from a passing contractor. They are regular employees of temp agencies working in the supply chain of many of America’s largest companies – Walmart, Macy’s, Nike, Frito-Lay. They make our frozen pizzas, sort the recycling from our trash, cut our vegetables and clean our imported fish. They unload clothing and toys made overseas and pack them to fill our store shelves. They are as important to the global economy as shipping containers and Asian garment workers.

Many get by on minimum wage, renting rooms in rundown houses, eating dinners of beans and potatoes, and surviving on food banks and taxpayer-funded health care. They almost never get benefits and have little opportunity for advancement.

But these are the types of jobs the U.S. economy is “creating” these days.  Low paying part-time jobs are continually becoming a bigger part of the economy.  This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class in America is shrinking.

You can’t support a family on what most of these part-time jobs pay.  But our economy is not producing many high quality full-time jobs these days.  The average quality of American jobs just continues to sink.

The following are 15 signs that the quality of jobs in America is going downhill really fast…

#1 The number of part-time workers in the United States has just hit a brand new all-time high, but the number of full-time workers is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.

#2 In America today, only 47 percent of adults have a full-time job.

#3 Even though the U.S. economy created nearly 200,000 jobs in June, the number of full-time jobs actually decreased.

#4 There are now 2.7 million temp workers in the United States – a new all-time high.

#5 One out of every ten jobs in the United States is now filled through a temp agency.

#6 The U.S. economy has actually lost manufacturing jobs for four consecutive months.

#7 The official unemployment rate has been at 7.5 percent or higher for 54 months in a row.  That is the longest stretch in U.S. history.

#8 According to one recent survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

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

#10 High paying manufacturing jobs continue to be shipped overseas.  Sadly, there are fewer Americans employed in manufacturing now than there was in 1950 even though the population of the country has more than doubled since then.

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

#12 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs.  60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.

#13 Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs.  Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.

#14 At this point, an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#15 According to a study that was released by the Center for Economic and Policy Research, only 24.6 percent of all jobs in the United States qualify as “good jobs” at this point.  In a previous article, I detailed the three criteria that they used to define what a “good job” is….

#1 The job must pay at least $18.50 an hour.  According to the authors, that is the equivalent of the median hourly pay for American workers back in 1979 after you adjust for inflation.

#2 The job must provide access to employer-sponsored health insurance, and the employer must pay at least some portion of the cost of that insurance.

#3 The job must provide access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan.

All of this is absolutely heartbreaking.

Once upon a time, just about any adult that was willing to work hard in America could go out and find a good paying job that would support a middle class lifestyle.

Now those days are gone forever.

But different conditions exist in different parts of the country.

What are you seeing in your area?

Are good jobs difficult to find?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

 

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