Thanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices. Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates. And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts. The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market. But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don’t stretch as far as they once did. The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.
Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years. It isn’t that she didn’t want to help the poor anymore. It was that she just couldn’t deal with the rising food prices any longer. Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.
Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately. In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene. For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound. Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase…
The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.
A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.
The “intellectuals” over at the Federal Reserve insist that “a little bit of inflation” is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.
In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000. For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s. As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years…
If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.
But they aren’t.
In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels…
Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.
Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.
“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.
This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.
The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.
And this could be just the beginning. Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe. Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse? Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.
In addition, a “black swan event” such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.
Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent…
Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.
The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said.
“Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.
If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.
Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.
But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.
One of the ways that they make the “official numbers” look good is by playing accounting games. They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed’s research department…
The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI “to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children’s toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly ‘distorted'” by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.
I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, “Now it’s time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month.” It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI.
I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or “distorted”—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.
It is all a game to them.
It is all about getting to the “right number” to release to the public.
But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.
The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.
Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.
Blame the Federal Reserve – their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.
This is the time of the year when Americans run out to their favorite retail stores and fill up their shopping carts with lots of cheap plastic crap made by workers in foreign countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. By doing this, the American people are actively participating in the destruction of the U.S. economy. You see, buying products that are made in America is not just a matter of national pride. It is a matter of national survival. If we do not support American workers, they are going to continue to see their jobs shipped out of the country. If we do not support American businesses, they are going to continue to die off at a staggering rate. Last year, the United States had a trade deficit with the rest of the world of 558 billion dollars. More than half a trillion dollars that could have gone into the pockets of U.S. workers and U.S. businesses went overseas instead. If that money had stayed in the country, taxes would have been paid on that mountain of cash and our local, state and federal government debt problems would not be as severe. As a result of our massive trade imbalance, we have lost tens of thousands of businesses, millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of national wealth. Both major political parties have sold us out on these issues, and we are getting poorer as a nation with each passing day. We desperately need a resurgence of economic patriotism in the United States before it is too late.
Yes, I know that it is very tempting to buy foreign-made products. After all, they are almost always cheaper.
But most people don’t often think about why they are cheaper.
Unfortunately, in the name of “free trade” American workers have been merged into a global labor pool where they have to compete directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the globe that live in countries where it is legal to pay slave labor wages. This makes employing American workers a tremendous liability.
If a company hires you and pays you 10 to 15 dollars an hour with benefits, how is it going to compete with another company that pays workers a dollar an hour with no benefits on the other side of the planet?
Both major political parties are pushing this emerging “one world economic system“, but it is absolutely killing American jobs. We have already seen a mass exodus of jobs and businesses out of this country, and wages for the jobs that remain in the United States are being forced down because there are hordes of unemployed workers that are willing to take just about any decent job they can find.
It has become painfully obvious that our politicians are not going to do anything to help us on these issues, so what we need is a mass awakening among the American people.
We need to educate people that buying things that are made in America is good for the economy and that buying things that are made elsewhere is bad for the economy.
But for now, most Americans are clueless. They will line up on Black Friday morning and trample one another in a desperate attempt to save a few bucks on cheap plastic devices that were made on the other side of the planet.
And they will pay for much of this “shopping” with credit cards.
Credit card debt is on the rise once again. In fact, average credit card debt per borrower was 4.9 percent higher in the third quarter of 2012 than it was in the third quarter of 2011. It looks like most of us didn’t learn our lessons from the last financial crisis.
But not all Americans enjoy the shopping that is typically involved with this time of the year. One recent survey found that approximately 45 percent of all Americans think that there is so much financial pressure associated with the holidays that they wouldn’t mind skipping them completely.
That same poll found that approximately 41 percent of all Americans would only be able to survive for two weeks without a paycheck. Many Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt, their incomes are not keeping up with rising prices, and they find themselves scratching and clawing just to make it from month to month.
Meanwhile, we continue to destroy our own jobs and businesses by spending our money on products that have been made outside the country.
The following are 55 reasons why you should buy products that are made in America this holiday season…
1. When you buy products that are made in America you support American workers.
2. When you buy products that are made in America you support companies that are doing business in America.
3. In 2000, there were more than 17 million Americans working in manufacturing, but now there are less than 12 million.
4. The United States has a trade imbalance that is more than 7 times larger than any other nation on earth has.
5. Our trade deficit with China in 2011 was $295.5 billion. That was the largest trade deficit that one country has had with another country in the history of the planet.
6. In 2011, our trade deficit with China was 28 times larger than it was back in 1990 and more than 49,000 times larger than it was back in 1985.
7. When NAFTA was passed in 1993, the United States had a trade surplus with Mexico of 1.6 billion dollars. In 2010, we had a trade deficit with Mexico of 61.6 billion dollars.
8. One professor has estimated that cutting the U.S. trade deficit in half would create 5 million more jobs in the United States.
9. Overall, the United States has run a trade deficit of more than 8 trillion dollars with the rest of the globe since 1975. That 8 trillion dollars could have gone to support U.S. businesses and pay the wages of U.S. workers. Federal, state and local taxes would also have been paid on that 8 trillion dollars if it had stayed in the United States.
10. According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
11. The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
12. According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, the United States has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years.
13. During 2010 alone, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities permanently shut down in the United States every single day.
14. Overall, the United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
15. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
16. Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
17. As I have written about previously, 95 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were middle class jobs.
18. Due in part to the globalization of the labor pool, only about 24 percent of all jobs in the United States are “good jobs” at this point.
19. Right now, more than 41 percent of all working age Americans do not have a job, and the vast majority of the new jobs that are being created are low paying jobs.
20. The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.
21. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the U.S. economy loses approximately 9,000 jobs for every $1 billion of goods that are imported from overseas.
22. As our economic infrastructure is gutted, formerly great manufacturing cities all over America are being transformed into festering hellholes.
23. Between 2001 and 2007, the value of products that Wal-Mart imported from China grew from $9 billion to $27 billion.
24. In 2001, American consumers spent 102 billion dollars on products made in China. In 2011, American consumers spent 399 billion dollars on products made in China.
25. The United States spends about 4 dollars on goods and services from China for every one dollar that China spends on goods and services from the United States.
26. Back in 1998, the United States had 25 percent of the world’s high-tech export market and China had just 10 percent. Today, China’s high-tech exports are more than twice the size of U.S. high-tech exports.
27. In 2002, the United States had a trade deficit in “advanced technology products” of $16 billion with the rest of the world. In 2010, that number skyrocketed to $82 billion.
28. The United States has lost more than a quarter of all of its high-tech manufacturing jobs over the past ten years.
29. Manufacturing employment in the U.S. computer industry was actually lower in 2010 than it was in 1975.
30. The Chinese undervalue their currency by about 40 percent in order to gain a critical advantage over foreign competitors. This means that many Chinese companies are able to absolutely thrive while their competition in the United States goes out of business.
31. According to the New York Times, a Jeep Grand Cherokee that costs $27,490 in the United States costs about $85,000 in China thanks to all the tariffs.
32. In 2010, China produced more than twice as many automobiles as the United States did.
33. Since the auto industry bailout, approximately 70 percent of all GM vehicles have been built outside the United States.
34. Do you remember when the United States was the dominant manufacturer of automobiles and trucks on the globe? Well, in 2010 the U.S. ran a trade deficit in automobiles, trucks and parts of $110 billion.
35. In 2010, South Korea exported 12 times as many automobiles, trucks and parts to us as we exported to them.
36. In 2010, China produced 627 million metric tons of steel. The United States only produced 80 million metric tons of steel.
37. In 2010, China produced 7.3 million metric tons of cotton. The United States only produced 3.4 million metric tons of cotton.
38. Today, China produces nearly twice as much beer as the United States does.
39. 85 percent of all artificial Christmas trees are made in China.
40. Right now, China is producing more than three times as much coal as the United States does.
41. China is now the number one supplier of components that are critical to the operation of U.S. defense systems. How stupid can we possibly be?
42. According to author Clyde Prestowitz, China’s number one export to the U.S. is computer equipment. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, during 2010 the number one U.S. export to China was “scrap and trash”.
43. All over the United States, road and bridge projects are being outsourced to Chinese firms. Just check out the following excerpt from a recent ABC News article….
In New York there is a $400 million renovation project on the Alexander Hamilton Bridge.
In California, there is a $7.2 billion project to rebuild the Bay Bridge connecting San Francisco and Oakland.
In Alaska, there is a proposal for a $190 million bridge project.
These projects sound like steps in the right direction, but much of the work is going to Chinese government-owned firms.
“When we subsidize jobs in China, we’re not creating any wealth in the United States,” said Scott Paul, executive director for the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
44. The new World Trade Center tower is going to include glass that has been imported from China.
45. The new Martin Luther King memorial on the National Mall was made in China.
46. The Chinese economy has grown 7 times faster than the U.S. economy has over the past decade.
47. The Chinese economy is projected to be larger than the U.S. economy by 2016.
48. One economist is projecting that the Chinese economy will be three times larger than the U.S. economy by the year 2040.
49. In recent years the U.S. economy has embraced “free trade” and the emerging one world economy like never before. Instead of increasing the number of jobs in our economy, it has resulted in the worst stretch of job creation in the United States in modern history….
If any single number captures the state of the American economy over the last decade, it is zero. That was the net gain in jobs between 1999 and 2009—nada, nil, zip. By painful contrast, from the 1940s through the 1990s, recessions came and went, but no decade ended without at least a 20 percent increase in the number of jobs.
50. If you gathered together all of the workers that are “officially” unemployed in the United States today, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.
51. China now holds approximately more than a trillion dollars of U.S. government debt. If you were alive back when Jesus was born and you had spent a million dollars every single day since then, you still would not have spent that much money by now.
52. Jeffrey Immelt, the head of Barack Obama’s highly touted “Jobs Council”, has shipped tens of thousands of good jobs out of the United States.
53. Without enough good jobs, more Americans than ever before are falling into poverty. Today, more than 100 million Americans are enrolled in at least one welfare program run by the federal government.
54. According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
55. If U.S. consumers do not start supporting U.S. workers and U.S. businesses, eventually we will all be so poor that very few of us will be able to afford to buy any gifts during the holiday season.
This economic decline has been really hard on everyone, but it has been particularly hard on American men. During the last recession male employment dropped like a rock and it has not recovered much at all since then. That is why many referred to the last recession as a “mancession”. Industries where men are disproportionately represented such as construction and manufacturing have really been hit hard in recent years. In the old days, you could take a high school education down to the local factory and get a job that would enable you to live a middle class lifestyle and support a growing family on just that one income. Sadly, those days are long gone. Today, American men live in a world where their labor is not really needed. Wages are falling because almost any worker can be easily replaced by the vast pool of unemployed American workers that are currently searching for work, and a lot of big companies are shifting labor-intensive jobs overseas where workers only make a small fraction of what they make in the United States. American workers (especially those without much education) are considered to be expensive liabilities in a world where labor has become a global commodity. So the percentage of working age American men that have jobs is likely to continue to decline and wages are likely to continue to stagnate as well.
For many men, a long-term bout with unemployment can almost be worse than a major illness. It can be really hard to feel like a man when you don’t have a job. Men often see themselves as filling the “provider” role, and when they aren’t providing for their families self-esteem can fall through the floor. It is easy to feel worthless when there is no money coming in and your wife and your kids are looking at you with worry every single day.
As you read this, there are millions upon millions of unemployed men sitting at home with a glazed look in their eyes. When you talk with these men, many of them seem as though the life has been sucked right out of them.
As I wrote about recently, when you cannot find a job month after month after month people start to look at you differently. Some start to look at you with pity in their eyes, and others start to look at you with disgust in their eyes.
Most Americans don’t really understand how much the economy has fundamentally changed, and many of them still believe that it shouldn’t be too difficult to find a job in “the greatest economy on earth”.
But things have changed. If you don’t have a college education or some highly specialized skills then it is going to be exceedingly difficult to get a good paying job in this economy.
Unfortunately, finding a job is not going to be getting any easier. Times are hard now, but they are going to be getting a lot harder.
The following are 16 signs that this economic decline is sucking the life out of the American male….
#1 During the last recession, men lost twice as many jobs as women did.
#2 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the “real entry-level hourly wage for men who recently graduated from high school” has declined from $15.64 in 1979 to $11.68 last year.
#3 During the recent economic downturn millions of men saw their family finances get absolutely destroyed. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
#4 As you can see from the chart below, in the 1950s there were times when nearly 85 percent of all working age men had a job. Sadly, that number has stayed below 65 percent since the end of the last recession….
#5 More unemployed fathers than ever are staying at home with the kids. Over the past decade the number of “stay at home dads” has doubled.
#6 Prior to the recession, women accounted for approximately 45 percent of the workforce. Now, they account for 49.4 percent of the workforce.
#7 According to one new survey, 23 percent of all small business owners in America have gone for more than a year without pay. More than half of all small business owners are men.
#8 The decline in manufacturing jobs has had a disproportionate impact on men. Back in 1940, 23.4% of all American workers had manufacturing jobs. Today, only 10.4% of all American workers have manufacturing jobs.
#9 More than half of all middle management jobs in America are now held by women.
#10 More than half of all health care jobs in America are now held by women.
#11 American men love to watch television. But because of harsh economic conditions more families than ever are eliminating cable television service. According to one survey, a whopping 6.9 million American homes cancelled cable service last year.
#12 According to the New York Times, approximately 57 percent of all Americans that are currently enrolled in college are women.
#13 According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
#14 According to another study, “young, urban, childless women” make more money in America today than young, urban, childless men do.
#15 According to CNN, in the United States today men in the 25 to 34 age bracket are nearly twice as likely to live with their parents as women the same age are….
The number of adult children who live with their parents, especially young males, has soared since the economy started heading south. Among males age 25 to 34, 19% live with their parents today, a 5 percentage point increase from 2005, according to Census data released Thursday. Meanwhile, 10% of women in that age group live at home, up from 8% six years ago.
#16 Our system often treats elderly American men like absolute trash. Just check out what happened to one elderly veteran up in Montana recently….
Warren C. Bodeker is an 89 year old World War II Army Airborne combat veteran and war hero, living in Montana, who is being thrown off of his own land and thrown out of his own house, by Montana Federal Bankruptcy Trustee, Christy Brandon, with the approval of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Montana. And to make matters worse, Warren’s wife Lorna just died of cancer this past year, and is buried there on their land, right next to the house. Warren had planned to live there till he died and then be buried right next to his wife, there on their property at 11 Freedom Lane, in the town of Plains, Montana, but now, not only is he being forced off his land, he is being forced to exhume his wife’s body and take her with him.
As the ability of men (and women) to take care of their families continues to decline, the middle class continues to shrink rapidly.
Most Americans continue to expect our economy to be able to bounce back to where it was before, but the truth is that the U.S. economy is in the midst of a long-term decline.
We are heading for an absolute economic nightmare, and we desperately need to come together as a nation and find some real solutions.
Unfortunately, our nation is becoming more divided than ever, and most of our politicians are proposing that we continue to do the exact same things that got us into this mess.
So what do all of you think about “the mancession” and what this economic decline is doing to the American male? Please feel free to post a comment with your thoughts below….
Once upon a time, anyone that was relatively competent and willing to work hard could go out and easily get a job that would enable that person to financially support a family. Unfortunately, that is simply no longer true anymore. Well paying “middle income jobs” are being rapidly replaced with “low income jobs” and part-time jobs. As the economy crumbles, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the typical American worker to survive from month to month. The number of companies that provide benefits such as health insurance has fallen steadily over the past ten years, and paychecks have not been keeping up with the rising prices of food and gas. Average American families are seeing their budgets squeezed like never before, and many of them are going into huge amounts of debt in order to make up the difference. Sadly, this is a problem that has developed over an extended period of time and that is not going to be reversed overnight. Over the past four decades, the ratio of wages and salaries to GDP in America has fallen dramatically. The typical American worker is not as valued as much as he or she used to be, and if current trends continue even more of us will be working part-time jobs or “low income jobs” in the years ahead.
In America today there is a great deal of focus on the unemployed, but there are also millions upon millions of Americans that are working part-time jobs because that is all that they can find.
It can be absolutely soul crushing to go all the way through school getting good grades, spend a ton of money on an education, and then work for 8 bucks an hour doing meaningless work for some predator corporation that simply does not care about how talented you are.
Today, an astounding 48 percent of all Americans are considered to be either “low income” or are living in poverty.
According to the New York Times, approximately 100 million Americans are either living in poverty or in “the fretful zone just above it”.
A lot of those people actually do have jobs. Unfortunately, a part-time job that pays 8 or 9 dollars an hour just will not get you anywhere close to getting over the poverty line.
This is not the way that the U.S. economy used to work. Back in the old days, good paying jobs that would allow you to live “the American Dream” were plentiful.
But now millions upon millions of Americans are scrambling for anything that they can get. According to a recent survey conducted by Gallup, the percentage of Americans that are working part-time jobs but that would like full-time jobs is now higher than it has been at any other time in the last two years.
In this economy, a good paying full-time job is incredibly precious. If you still have one, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate.
Check out the following chart. It is a chart that shows the level of wages and salaries as a percentage of GDP in the United States since the late 1940s. As you can see, the slice of the pie being taken home by American workers has been dropping like a rock since about 1970….
Is that a clear trend or what?
And it is going to continue year after year as long as we continue to pursue the same foolish economic policies.
As our politicians continue to allow millions of American jobs to be shipped overseas, competition for the jobs that remain inside this country is becoming extremely intense.
Back in 1967, 97 percent of all U.S. men with a high school degree between the ages of 30 and 50 had jobs. Today, that figure is down to 76 percent.
As you read this, there are hordes of hard working American workers sitting at home staring at their televisions as they wonder why nobody will hire them.
Right now, if you gathered together all of the unemployed people in the United States, they would constitute the 68th largest country in the world.
That is absolutely insane.
But even if you do have a job that does not mean that you are in good shape. The percentage of “low income jobs” just continues to climb. Back in 1980, less than 30% of all jobs in the United States were low income jobs. Today, more than 40% of all jobs in the United States are low income jobs.
Many Americans work as hard as they can and still find that they must turn to the government for financial assistance. According to author Paul Osterman, about 20 percent of all U.S. adults are currently working jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
And that number is just going to keep climbing unless we change what we are doing as a nation.
Perhaps you are working a “low income job” right now. Most of us have worked a job like that at least once in our lives. Hopefully you will find the following list amusing. Yes, I have exaggerated a few things slightly, but I think you will get the point.
The following are 20 signs you might be a typical American worker….
#1 If you are working three jobs and you still don’t have enough money at the end of the month, you might be a typical American worker.
#2 If your job involves asking the question “Would you like fries with that?”, you might be a typical American worker.
#3 If you shop at the dollar store because Wal-Mart is too expensive, you might be a typical American worker.
#4 If your job requires you to wear a smock, a brightly colored polo shirt or lots of “flair”, you might be a typical American worker.
#5 If people are constantly asking you where the restroom is while you are at work, you might be a typical American worker.
#6 If your employer hires extra part-time workers in order to avoid giving anyone full-time hours, you might be a typical American worker.
#7 If you are required to watch a mindless “training video” after being hired, you might be a typical American worker.
#8 If the company you work for is owned by someone on the other side of the world, you might be a typical American worker.
#9 If a trained seal could do your job and you feel like your expensive education is going to waste, you might be at typical American worker.
#10 If you don’t have any health insurance at all, you might be a typical American worker. Only about 25 percent of all part-time workers in the United States receive employee benefits such as health insurance or paid sick leave.
#11 If your car is older than your kids are, you might be a typical American worker.
#12 If you can’t afford to buy the things that you are selling to the public, you might be a typical American worker.
#13 If the balances on your credit cards are larger than your bank accounts are, you might be a typical American worker.
#14 If going to Burger King is your idea of “fine dining”, then you might be a typical American worker.
#15 If it costs more to fill up your car with gas than you will make at your job today, you might be a typical American worker. The price of gasoline has increased by 83 percent since Barack Obama first took office, and the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States is now up to $3.52.
#16 If you eat your cereal with a fork so that you can save milk, you might be a typical American worker.
#17 If your electricity bill keeps going up but your paycheck never does, you might be a typical American worker.
#18 If it feels like you are losing an organ every time you pay for health insurance each month, you might be a typical American worker.
#19 If you feel like your employer is constantly tempted to replace you with someone younger and cheaper, then you might be a typical American worker.
#20 If you are so poor that you cannot even afford to pay attention, you might be a typical American worker.
Unfortunately, a lot more Americans are going to be forced into working these kinds of jobs if current trends continue.
Since the year 2000, we have lost 10% of our middle class jobs even though our population has increased by more than 30 million since then. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States, but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.
The lack of good jobs in America has some very real consequences. In particular, our young adults are really feeling the pain of not being able to find quality employment.
According to a recent poll conducted by Generation Opportunity, huge numbers of Americans in the 18 to 29 year old age bracket are delaying major life decisions due to the poor economy….
-44% are delaying buying a home
-28% are delaying saving for retirement
-27% are delaying paying off student loans or other debt
-27% are delaying going back to school or getting more education
-23% are delaying starting a family
-18% are delaying getting married
All of those things take a lot of money, and if you simply don’t have the money it makes things really tough.
Sadly, the economy is about to get even worse.
As I have written about previously, what is going on in Greece right now is a warning sign for the rest of the world, and we are on the precipice of another major global financial crisis.
There are an increasing number of voices in the financial world that believe that we are going to see a Greek default in March. So will this actually happen? I certainly don’t know. But what some folks are currently saying about the situation sure does make for interesting reading.
In the old days, you could graduate from college, get a good job, work for the same company for 30 years, save up for retirement and count on a comfortable life in your old age.
That paradigm is now totally shattered. The entire global economic system is in a state of chaos and things change faster today than they ever have before.
If you have a job today, it may be gone tomorrow.
The financial institution or insurance company that you are working with today may be out of business by next month.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly unstable. That is why it is imperative to try to become more self-sufficient and less dependent on the system.
It is tough to plan in such an environment, but one thing is for sure – tough times are coming and things are not going to get any easier than they are now.
Have you ever heard of the dodo bird? Once upon a time, dodo birds lived on the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. But if you go there today you won’t find any because they are extinct. Well, if you are a blue collar worker in America today it looks like you are headed for a similar fate. Blue collar workers are truly becoming an “endangered species” in the United States. In the old days, the balance of power between business owners and labor was more even because they both needed each other. But today that has all changed. Thanks to robotics, automation and computers there is simply not as much of a need for physical laborers anymore and nothing is going to reverse that trend. Big employers will continue to look for ways to replace men with machines, and there is nothing wrong with that. But there is another major trend that is also destroying blue collar jobs in America that we should do something about. Right now, it is perfectly legal for big corporations to shut down manufacturing facilities in the United States and send the jobs over to nations on the other side of the globe where it is legal to pay slave labor wages and where there are barely any regulations. As you will see later on this article, this has been the biggest reason for the shocking blue collar job losses in America over the past decade. The big corporations don’t care that you need to pay the mortgage and put food on the table for your families. All they care about it the bottom line, and if dramatic changes are not made soon, the number of blue collar jobs leaving the United States will continue to increase.
Once upon a time, almost everyone who wanted a job in America could get one. If you go back a few decades, you will find that about 95 percent of all men between the ages of 25 and 54 had a job. Today that figure is struggling to stay above 80 percent.
If you are a blue collar worker in America, you are simply not valued. Your bosses are constantly trying to think of ways to replace you or send your job overseas.
According to Reuters, 23.7 million American workers are either unemployed or underemployed right now. The more “blue collar” you are, the more likely you are to be unemployed. The following chart that shows the unemployment rate during 2010 broken down by level of education comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics….
If you are an unskilled worker in America today, you simply are not needed. Yes, once upon a time nearly anyone could go out and get a factory job, but those days are over. Neither major political party seems the least bit interested in trying to keep manufacturing jobs in America.
Back in the year 2000, more than 20 percent of all jobs in America were manufacturing jobs. Today, about 5 percent of all jobs in America are manufacturing jobs.
To have that huge of a shift in a little over a decade is absolutely mind blowing.
Many Americans had been hoping that Barack Obama would stand up for the working man like he promised to do. But just like so many of Obama’s other promises, that one was totally worthless as well.
The Obama administration has been pushing hard for even more “free trade” deals that will allow big corporations to ship even more of our jobs out of the country. The Obama administration simply does not value blue collar jobs at all. In fact, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk is running around telling the press that there are lots of things that “we don’t want to make in America” anymore.
If you are a blue collar worker, Barack Obama does not care about you.
He never cared about you.
In fact, the vast majority of the politicians in both major political parties do not care about you.
What they do care about is winning elections and taking care of the big donors that keep helping them win elections.
Many of those donors are systematically shipping huge numbers of our jobs overseas.
In addition, now that labor has become a “global commodity”, wages for the jobs that remain in America are being steadily driven lower.
A recent White House reported entitled “Investing in America: Building an Economy That Lasts” actually bragged that our trade policies have driven wages in America down. The following chart is from that report….
We were told that the “one world economy” would be great for America, but the truth is that it has only been great for the giant corporations. For the average working man, it has been a disaster.
But we should have all seen this coming. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was going to happen once you put American workers into the same labor pool as slave laborers on the other side of the world. After all, what greedy corporate executive really wants to pay U.S. workers ten to twenty times as much compensation just because it is the “right” thing to do?
Today, formerly great cities all over America are being transformed into hellholes while shiny, new industrial cities are popping up all over China.
For example, a couple of decades ago the Chinese city of Shenzhen was a sleepy little fishing town.
In 2012, it is a teeming metropolis of over 13 million people.
Foxconn (the builder of iPhones, iPads and many other products that we buy) runs a factory in Shenzhen that employs over 400,000 people. Most of those people work for about a dollar an hour.
A recent article posted on Business Insider described the incredibly long hours and the nightmarish working conditions that those workers must endure. The following is a brief excerpt from that article….
A Chinese working “hour” is 60 minutes–unlike an American “hour,” which generally includes breaks for Facebook, the bathroom, a phone call, and some conversation. The official work day in China is 8 hours long, but the standard shift is 12 hours. Generally, these shifts extend to 14-16 hours, especially when there’s a hot new gadget to build.
At Foxconn, they don’t really care about the health and safety of the workers. Workers are expected to do the same repetitive tasks as rapidly as they can for as long as they can. When their bodies break down, they are fired….
Some workers can no longer work because their hands have been destroyed by doing the same thing hundreds of thousands of times over many years (mega-carpal-tunnel). This could have been avoided if the workers had merely shifted jobs. Once the workers’ hands no longer work, obviously, they’re canned.
But the Obama administration insists that allowing big corporations to ship our jobs over to countries with working conditions like that is “good for the economy”.
Well, it might be good for the profits of the largest corporations, but it is a total nightmare for the rest of us. Just consider the following stats….
*The United States has lost an average of 50,000 manufacturing jobs per month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
*Between December 2000 and December 2010, 38 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Ohio were lost, 42 percent of the manufacturing jobs in North Carolina were lost and 48 percent of the manufacturing jobs in Michigan were lost.
*According to U.S. Representative Betty Sutton, America has lost an average of 15 manufacturing facilities a day over the last 10 years. During 2010 it got even worse. Last year, an average of 23 manufacturing facilities a day shut down in the United States.
*In all, more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities in the United States have shut down since 2001.
*According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 dropped by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
*According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades.
Are you starting to get the picture?
If you are a blue collar worker that cannot find a job, it is not because you have failed as a human being.
Rather, the truth is that you cannot find a job because of the failed trade policies of the federal government.
We are experiencing the bitter fruit of a “one world economy”. Globalization was never intended to make the lives of American workers better, and now many are finally waking up and realizing this.
Hopefully, as Americans wake up on these issues they will fight to turn this nation in a more positive direction.
Unfortunately, way too many Americans are giving up hope completely. The following comes from a recent article in the Guardian….
The year 2011 will be remembered as the time when many ever-optimistic Americans began to give up hope. President John F Kennedy once said that a rising tide lifts all boats. But now, in the receding tide, Americans are beginning to see not only that those with taller masts had been lifted far higher, but also that many of the smaller boats had been dashed to pieces in their wake.
As I have written about so many times, we are watching the middle class in America be systematically destroyed.
The economy is not getting better. There may be moments when the economy seems like it is improving, but the reality is that we are mired in a nightmarish long-term decline. If you are not yet convinced of this, please see this article and this article.
Even those running our economy are saying that things are not going to be getting much better any time soon.
For example, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Charles Evans, recently admitted that the employment picture is not going to be much brighter than it is now by the end of 2012. He recently said that “at the end of the year, we’re not going to be very different from 8.5 percent unemployment.”
And remember – history has shown us that most pronouncements by Federal Reserve officials are usually far too optimistic.
If you are a blue collar worker in America, there is simply not too much to be optimistic about right now.
You might want to think about how you and your family are going to survive without any work.
The millions of jobs that have been sent overseas are not coming back. Even if you still have a decent job, now is the time to be developing a side business or developing other alternative streams of income.
What you don’t want to do is to just sit there and hope that somehow things will “magically” turn around if we just vote in the “right” politician.
If you want to get a really good idea of what is really going on with the U.S. economy right now, just go tour some of the formerly great industrial cities in the “Rust Belt”.
In Cuyahoga County, Ohio one out of every five houses is sitting vacant. It is not that those homes are not needed – it is just that there are not nearly enough people with good jobs available to buy up all of the foreclosures.
So thousands of perfectly good houses are being torn down. The following comes from a recent CBS News report by Scott Pelley….
Across America, recession-fueled foreclosures and plummeting home values have left countless properties abandoned and vulnerable to looting. As Scott Pelley reports, the problem has gotten so bad in Cleveland, Ohio, that county officials have demolished more than 1,000 homes this year – and plan to demolish 20,000 more – rather than let the blight spread and render nearby homes worthless.
Can you imagine that?
20,000 homes being demolished in one county alone?
Of course Detroit is in even worse shape than Cleveland. If you can believe it, the median price of a home in Detroit is now just $6000.
For much more on all of this, please read my recent article entitled “Formerly Great Cities All Over America Are Turning Into Open, Festering Sores“.
It would be great if I could tell you that hope is just around the corner, but it is not. The plight of the blue collar worker in America is going to get worse and worse.
But just because blue collar workers in America are an endangered species does not mean that you have to be a victim.
We should all seek to become less dependent on the system.
If you are completely and totally dependent on having a “job” (just over broke), then you have put yourself in a very vulnerable position.
That job could disappear at any moment.
Over the next few years, the number of good jobs is going to continue to decrease. Things are going to be really tough. But those that have prepared and that have tried to become more independent are going to be in much better shape than those that have not.