What a shrinking middle class portends for our future

It’s easy to get fixated on the day-to-day give-and-take of politics and lose sight of the underlying realities that drive a campaign. So let’s take a step or two back and try to refocus on the big picture, shall we?

The dominant reality driving the campaign of 2012 — and probably 2016 and 2020 as well — is this, as laid out in a new Pew report on the American middle class:

pew

As the 2012 presidential candidates prepare their closing arguments to America’s middle class, they are courting a group that has endured a lost decade for economic well-being. Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some — but by no means all — of its characteristic faith in the future….

Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot.

The easy inclination is to blame the problems of the middle class on the economic crisis of 2008 and its continuing aftermath. And as one of the charts above documents, that calamity has indeed devastated the net worth of America’s middle class. Wealth that was tied up in the stock market has more than recovered what was lost in 2007 and 2008; wealth that was tied up largely in housing has not recovered and will not recover at any point in the foreseeable future. And many in the middle class had leveraged that now-vanished wealth to support themselves in a style which they will never enjoy again.

However, the other chart demonstrates the real problem. Income for the middle-class — defined by Pew as adults with an income of two-thirds to twice the national median income — had stagnated for a decade, long before the Wall Street crisis. In 1971, 61 percent of Americans fell into the middle class as it is defined by Pew. Today it has shrunk to 51 percent, and shows every sign of continuing to shrink.

As Pew puts it:

The hollowing of the middle has been accompanied by a dispersion of the population into the economic tiers both above and below. The upper-income tier rose to 20% of adults in 2011, up from 14% in 1971; the lower-income tier rose to 29%, up from 25%.

However, over the same period, only the upper-income tier increased its share in the nation’s household income pie. It now takes in 46%, up from 29% four decades ago. The middle tier now takes in 45%, down from 62% four decades ago. The lower tier takes in 9%, down from 10% four decades ago.

The 2012 campaign poses several important questions to American voters. Although cast as policy choices such as how to handle entitlements and how to change tax policy, they are really just symptoms of more fundamental questions:

middle

Are these changes caused or merely exacerbated by government policy, which would suggest that a change of policy could reverse them? Or are they instead driven by larger tectonic shifts in which government plays a very small role?

Should government attempt in any way to compensate for these profound changes, such as the massive upward shift of income and the loss of economic security for those below? Or does government have no legitimate role to play?

How does the shrinking of the middle class and the ongoing shift of both wealth and power alter our understanding of America? For those who can attain it, the American dream is more rewarding than it has ever been. But the number of winning tickets is getting smaller and smaller.

In politics, questions are rarely if ever posed to the public in such as fashion. But these are the things that we’re really debating in this campaign, and the answers matter a great deal.

– Jay Bookman

281 comments Add your comment

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
8:39 am

“Fully 85% of self-described middle-class adults say it is more difficult now than it was a decade ago for middle-class people to maintain their standard of living. Of those who feel this way, 62% say “a lot” of the blame lies with Congress, while 54% say the same about banks and financial institutions, 47% about large corporations, 44% about the Bush administration, 39% about foreign competition and 34% about the Obama administration. Just 8% blame the middle class itself a lot.”

interesting that less then 10% look in the mirror at the reasons behind the decline in their standards of living – particularly when that standard was inflated to an unsustainable high due to getting deeply into credit card debt.

While I definitely don’t hold the banking industry or Congress blameless, there should be a little more reflection done by the middle class

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
8:40 am

ooooooooooooo … Friday firsties

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
8:41 am

Should government attempt in any way to compensate for these profound changes, such as the massive upward shift of income and the loss of economic security for those below? Or does government have no legitimate role to play?

The former.

(THBAEOSATSQ.)

Mick

August 24th, 2012
8:44 am

I’ve thought about this a lot and it is very frustrating cause I’m just about over the hump but what about those younger than me? They vote against their self interests and it’s pretty hard to grasp the fact that god willing, you too will be an elder one day. What type of nation awaits 10, 20 years from now? I’m planning for it and I hate to be negative but the trending is somewhat of coin toss. Good luck all-

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
8:45 am

dB – 8:41 – CEO salary and benefits caps, anyone???

Fly-On-The-Wall

August 24th, 2012
8:45 am

Let them eat tax cuts…..that’s the Republican answer.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
8:45 am

By the way, I think I can pat myself on the back a bit and take a little credit for this one, since I was calling attention to the piss-poor condition of American median net worth about… (checking watch) 46 hours ago.

The last figures *I* had, though, were from 2007, and I knew full well that those numbers weren’t gonna look any better five years on.

For me, it’s simple. We’ve been fcrewn. Rode hard, put away wet, however you want to put it.

Is the plutocracy going to do something to rectify it, or are they just wait until a few of their pals’ heads are atop pikes, as they bloody well deserve to be?

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
8:46 am

oh – and just to make myself perfectly clear – by “caps” – I’m specifically referring it to tying their salary to the lowest-paid employee in the company. If they want a “2-comma” salary, then they need to raise ALL ships so that they can achieve it.

Fly-On-The-Wall

August 24th, 2012
8:46 am

USinUK – how about CEOs get minimum wage instead.

F. Sinkwich

August 24th, 2012
8:48 am

“Should government attempt in any way to compensate for these profound changes, such as the massive upward shift of income and the loss of economic security for those below?”

Yeah, get out of the way. Stop punishing success. Quit dreaming up job-killing regulations. End the war on our energy sector.

Fly-On-The-Wall

August 24th, 2012
8:48 am

USinUK – I would agree with what you’re saying but that just reeks of SOCIALISM so it must be a bad idea. We can’t have fairness in the system, everyone must be out for themselves and no one else.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
8:49 am

I have to laugh. A few days back the AJC political cartoon was a man representing the middle class with a big screw through his middle supposedly placed there by the Republicans. Of course Lukovich wouldn’t draw the Obama / Democrat middle class which would be a ghost [ i.e. no middle class at all ]. The real problem is the government at every level; fed, state, local. The local govs need to start pushing back against the state. The states need to ‘unionize’ and start pushing back against idiotic federal policies.

A surging middle class is what has driven the economic engine of this country during the good times. It’s flat out amazing the way government is doing everything it can to suppress this group of families.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
8:49 am

To get this back to Obama (since some mentally challenged rightie is going to Go There anyway), and to pick some low-hangin’ fruit–erm, HAMP?

Why did this Administration willfully do such a piss-poor job of helping homeowners?

see also:

http://www.eschatonblog.com/2011/10/hampd.html

Skip

August 24th, 2012
8:49 am

In 06 I put 60% down on my house, have no cc debt. In hindsight I did everything back wards.

Steve-USA "None of the Above"

August 24th, 2012
8:50 am

UsinUk – “interesting that less then 10% look in the mirror at the reasons behind the decline in their standards of living – particularly when that standard was inflated to an unsustainable high due to getting deeply into credit card debt.

While I definitely don’t hold the banking industry or Congress blameless, there should be a little more reflection done by the middle class.”

Spot on. I’m stunned.;)

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
8:51 am

The states need to ‘unionize’ and start pushing back against idiotic federal policies.

Balkanization today.
Balkanization tomorrah.
Balkanization fo’evah.

East Lake Ira

August 24th, 2012
8:51 am

What we need is some inflation.

F. Sinkwich

August 24th, 2012
8:51 am

Looks like the redistributionist Marxists are out in force today…Jay attracts them like flies on a turd.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
8:51 am

F. Sinkiewicz — “Yeah, get out of the way. Stop punishing success. Quit dreaming up job-killing regulations. End the war on our energy sector.”

You can always tell when Fishy’s been on one of his overnight benders, as he starts making stuff up.

larry

August 24th, 2012
8:51 am

Wages have been stagnant over the last 30 years, while CEO pay has gone up over 300% of the average workers pay. The average CEO made 9.6 million dollars last year while wages increased by only 2%.

Granted , the loss in home value is one of the major reasons why the middle class has gone down in the last decade, maybe if wages had stayed at least halfway with the rate of inflation, they would not have leveraged their equity in their homes.

Oh…………… here comes the ” living within their means ” crowd. 3………..2…………1………..

Fly-On-The-Wall

August 24th, 2012
8:52 am

Oh boy…it didn’t take long before we get the usual – Government BAD, Free Market GOOD comments.

I wouldn’t mind if government would stop punishing success by removing all Corporate welfare first. Remove the billions of dollars we send to the Oil Companies and other special breaks that corporations have. Level the playing field and I’ll bet lots more people would have a chance. But unfortunately, even if Sinkwich agrees with me, the Republican Party would not do that. We need to keep sending billions to those job creators.

Jay

August 24th, 2012
8:53 am

“The real problem is the government at every level; fed, state, local. The local govs need to start pushing back against the state. The states need to ‘unionize’ and start pushing back against idiotic federal policies.

A surging middle class is what has driven the economic engine of this country during the good times. It’s flat out amazing the way government is doing everything it can to suppress this group of families.

Blind, please explain how government is causing this shift, and what it can do to reverse it. You’ve made an assertion here, but you have given us no evidence for its truth.

Cherokee

August 24th, 2012
8:53 am

‘Since 2000, the middle class has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth…’

Hmmmm.

What was it that happened in Presidential politics in 2000…

Hmmmmm.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
8:53 am

As for CEO compensation. It wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all for this group to get plastered at income tax time. Top rate of 75% and tax the crap out of their retirement packages. This is for CEO’s hired by idiotic boards. The guys that start their own business and grow it like Steve Jobs, etc would not be paying these kinds of rates.

EJ Moosa

August 24th, 2012
8:54 am

Amazing. It looks on your chart that we peaked just as Reid and Pelosi took control of the legislative branch of government.

You really think that is just coincidental?

Who was complaining when we hit that last peak?

HDB

August 24th, 2012
8:54 am

Many that have suffered the decline in their standard of living can accurately attribute it to Republican policies that are slanted towards those of wealth, policies that are anti-education, anti-minority, anti-urban…and anti-growth!! History has shown that the economy GROWS when Democrats are in the WH…and CONTRACTS when Republicans are in control…..

East Lake Ira

August 24th, 2012
8:56 am

Forget the Oil Companies, let’s first take on the Sugar industry and remove trade barriers, lower costs, and gimme some really cheap candy.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
8:57 am

Moosa — “Amazing. It looks on your chart that we peaked just as Reid and Pelosi took control of the legislative branch of government. You really think that is just coincidental?”

Unless Congress was routinely overriding Presidential vetoes on fiscal policy, then I don’t see how you can lay the blame at Congressional Democrats’ feet at all.

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
8:57 am

dB – 8:41 – CEO salary and benefits caps, anyone?

UnU, I’m not necessarily opposed to our government playing hardball and negotiating such things on a case-by-case basis, but I see that as a fairly symbolic sort of approach.

I really do NOT hate the rich (even though I recognize that some of them really do deserve to have their heads mounted on pikes–I’m old-school that way). I don’t see any reason to limit their earnings simply in the hope that the money they don’t make automagically winds up in the hands of the groundlings.

I’d much rather legislate living wages, better social safety nets, und so weiter. (and an affirmative action program for organized labor, since it’s been hammered harder than any other group in this country the past 30 years.)

Anyway, gotta go produce, might be back later. Be excellent to one another.

ty webb

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

“What was it that happened in Presidential politics in 2000…”

Clinton served out the last year of his 2nd term…next inane question, please.

Mark T

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

Jay..off topic but about your comment yesterday that the WSJ is a conservative newspaper…

The New York media world is staunchly Democratic,” The New York Times reported today in a piece about political donations by media companies. While Wall Street may lean Republican, the article notes, “all major media companies” have made larger contributions to President Barack Obama than to Mitt Romney. That includes Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corporation.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation, for example, has contributed $58,825 to Mr. Obama’s campaign, compared with $2,750 to Mr. Romney. The conglomerate, which owns Fox News, The Wall Street Journal

jconservative

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

The number of Net Jobs created has been declining since the mid 1970’s. It hit rock bottom at Zero percent in the decade of the 2000’s.

But we will spend this election cycle debating the need for tax policy changes to reverse this trend. Lower taxes and the jobs will return. The fact that we have been lowering taxes since 1981 seems superfluous to the conversation.

With the apparent ability of Congress to address any problem but the economic one, I would predict that we will spend another 4 years lowering government revenue and increasing government spending.

TaxPayer

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

You worry too much, Jay. You just gotta have faith in Romney/Ryan’s “Trust Me-2012″ campaign. You see, they’re gonna create 3 million jobs per year for their four years in office and then once that happens, their magical broad-based tax revenues from their more bigger tax cuts for the job creators kick in and voila! And any average household containing 3 or more working class people can easily hold down three or more $20k per year jobs and end up showing their gratitude to the job creators by giving up their healthcare and unemployment and medicare and social security while paying a paltry ten percent in federal tax plus payroll taxes. What! Did you think payroll taxes would go away just because entitlements go away! What were you thinking. Who would pay for the next round of job creator tax cuts.

EJ Moosa

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

“Blind, please explain how government is causing this shift, and what it can do to reverse it”

For years you have had reader after reader point to the ever increasing costs of regulation, compliance and even minimum wage increases on the private sector.

And every time you have merely dismissed it as you demand evidence.

You have the evidence before you. You have constantly refused to connect the dots.

By the way, I noticed that unemployment is rising, the economy is rapidly weakening, and just before the election, as I expressed to you it wound more than once over the last year….

When you want to talk about the impact of declining corporate profits on the economy, just let me know.

St Simons - he-ne-ha

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

when you can’t afford bootstraps, that whole meme kinda falls apart
don’t it?

myself, i like this – if the plutocracy doesn’t fix it, (get off the hoarded
monay), there will be revolution. Either way, something good happens.
Let’s get it on.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7eTOnNBwYU

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

Jay, how much taxpayer money is spent on illegal aliens every year ? Many billions, every year, for how many decades ??? What if we had spent that money on infrastructure , pipelines, outer perimeters, mass transit ??? How much taxpayer money goes to support 10’s of thousands of American troops on foreign soil that haven’t faced a credible threat in 20 years or more ?? What if we spent that money on education or Medicare or Medicaid ?

The government is this great sucking whirlpool that is directly tied into the taxpayer’s pocket.

None of this even talks about the amount of money being borrowed from abroad.

And Jay, you know all this better than I do. That’s why there is so much growing hatred between liberals and conservatives. Something else we have government to thank for. Divide and get reelected.

ByteMe - Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

It starts with the question: where are the “middle class” jobs these days? 30-50 years ago, they were in manufacturing… steady jobs, steady pay that increased with inflation.

Manufacturing left us for cheaper shores. So what’s next? Hospitality? That’s a loser, because it doesn’t take a real skill to do the job. Construction worked for us for a while, but that’s gone for probably a decade unless we get a massive infusion of government infrastructure money from somewhere… unlikely.

It’s certainly not high-tech jobs, because the whole point of being “high tech” is high productivity, which means robotics instead of people.

So where do the “middle class” jobs come from in the future?

stands for decibels (SfBA)

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

oops, UnU, I didn’t see your addendum @ 8.46, which mitigates some of what I’d written.

We’re kinda on the same page I guess. Kinda.

/drive-by

EJ Moosa

August 24th, 2012
9:01 am

“Unless Congress was routinely overriding Presidential vetoes on fiscal policy, then I don’t see how you can lay the blame at Congressional Democrats’ feet at all.”

So today you are saying it is the President that is responsible for the outcome?

Good to know. We will keep that in mind in Noivember.

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:02 am

jconservative

August 24th, 2012
8:59 am

The number of Net Jobs created has been declining since the mid 1970’s. It hit rock bottom at Zero percent in the decade of the 2000’s.

But we will spend this election cycle debating the need for tax policy changes to reverse this trend. Lower taxes and the jobs will return. The fact that we have been lowering taxes since 1981 seems superfluous to the conversation.

With the apparent ability of Congress to address any problem but the economic one, I would predict that we will spend another 4 years lowering government revenue and increasing government spending.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I nominate this for post of the WEEK.

ByteMe - Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:02 am

and grow it like Steve Jobs, etc would not be paying these kinds of rates.

Steve paid himself $1/year to fix Apple. He did pretty well.

USMC

August 24th, 2012
9:03 am

“While I definitely don’t hold the banking industry or Congress blameless, there should be a little more reflection done by the middle class”– USinUK

These are the wisest words that will be said(written) on this blog today, but I would delete the word “little” in front of the word “more”. :-)

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:03 am

Steve – “Spot on. I’m stunned.;)”

:-)

even a blind squirrel can find an acorn, right?? heehee

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:04 am

“These are the wisest words that will be said(written) on this blog today, but I would delete the word “little” in front of the word “more”. :-)

I was trying to be nice

EJ Moosa

August 24th, 2012
9:04 am

“Unless Congress was routinely overriding Presidential vetoes on fiscal policy, then I don’t see how you can lay the blame at Congressional Democrats’ feet at all.”

And just for the record, you should research just how few vetoes there were….that just may be the worst excuse I have ever read.

USMC

August 24th, 2012
9:05 am

“I was trying to be nice”

As usual :-)

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:05 am

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:00 am

Jay, how much taxpayer money is spent on illegal aliens every year ? Many billions, every year, for how many decades ???
+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Are you crapping me? Money spent HOW? Education? Illegal aliens pay property taxes. Illegals pay payroll taxes. Illegals pay sales taxes. That whole Republican scared of illegals make them the scapegoat is some serious weaksauce pal.

Try something that is logical. Illegals put MORE into our economy than they take out.

Jay

August 24th, 2012
9:06 am

Trying to peg a 40-year economic trend to a single election outcome 35 years or 30 years into that trend is, well … it speaks for itself I guess.

larry

August 24th, 2012
9:07 am

So where do the “middle class” jobs come from in the future?

That is a very good question.

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:07 am

ByteMe – Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:02 am

and grow it like Steve Jobs, etc would not be paying these kinds of rates.

Steve paid himself $1/year to fix Apple. He did pretty well.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Wow. I’m SO impressed. i guess if I was worth several billions of dollars I could pay myself a dollar too. Look at all the income taxes I wouldn’t have to pay.

Meanwhile he sent how many jobs to China so he could make 1 billion dollar a month profits and never pay dividends?

MiltonMan

August 24th, 2012
9:07 am

“Should government attempt in any way to compensate for these profound changes, such as the massive upward shift of income and the loss of economic security for those below?”

Government been doing this for years – EIC, tax credit for poor to go to college, medical expense write-off, etc. Why do you think almost 50% of American pay 0 in federal taxes?

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
9:07 am

Moosa — For years you have had reader after reader point to the ever increasing costs of regulation, compliance and even minimum wage increases on the private sector.

And every time you have merely dismissed it as you demand evidence.

You have the evidence before you. You have constantly refused to connect the dots.

http://leftycartoons.com/a-brief-history-of-corporate-whining/

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:08 am

Jay – 9:06 – don’t you knowhistory began on Jan 20, 2009.

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:09 am

Jay

August 24th, 2012
9:06 am

Trying to peg a 40-year economic trend to a single election outcome 35 years or 30 years into that trend is, well … it speaks for itself I guess.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

It’s kind of like trying to peg a 10 or 20 year weather trend to a single global warming outcome 10 years into a million year cycle……. guess THAT speaks for itself as well.

Logic Phail.

MiltonMan

August 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Moosa — “So today you are saying it is the President that is responsible for the outcome?”

No, *you* indicated that it was Congress, in particular Congressional Democrats, who were to blame. Fine. Show us some evidence of that, if you’re actually up to doing evidence today.

“Good to know. We will keep that in mind in Noivember.”

Sorry to disappoint you, but that’s not what I said, thought or meant. Maybe you could instead read my comment to mean “show me,” instead of being a Richard about it.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Fred, I’ve seen too many numbers for your nonsense to have even the minutest effect on my thinking. This doesn’t even address the $Billions of remittances that leave our economy and prop up Mexico, et al.

Plus the divisive element they are. Real good for the country :rolleyes:

Are you Jay or Lukowitch with a different log in ? Try a bigger lie, louder too.

Jay

August 24th, 2012
9:11 am

Right Fred. They’re exactly the same …. eyeroll.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
9:12 am

Moosa — “And just for the record, you should research just how few vetoes there were…”

I *know* how few vetoes there were. That’s the POINT, Moosa. :roll:

“that just may be the worst excuse I have ever read.”

Good thing it wasn’t meant or intended as an excuse, then.

ty webb

August 24th, 2012
9:12 am

Jay,
just who were you defending in your 9:06, Bush or Obama? come on, that kinda stuff isn’t wanted here…sides have to be chosen, and pom poms need to be waved. Please give all the “non-partisan” partisans here, what they want.

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:12 am

“American incomes declined more in the three-year expansion that started in June 2009 than during the longest recession since the Great Depression, according an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Sentier Research LLC. ”

why do you people hate the free market that you so embrace???

corporations are showing record profits

ceos made record salaries http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47565818/ns/business-us_business/t/american-ceos-hauled-record-pay/

so, this is the Preskident’s fault … how, exactly???

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:12 am

When you want to talk about the impact of declining corporate profits on the economy, just let me know.

Kind of hard to do since corporate profits are at record highs. WHat with firing Americans, using chinese slave and forced child labor, while facing no import taxes along with their corporate bailouts and corporate welfare, big business is doing great. What’s your point?

Fred ™

August 24th, 2012
9:14 am

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:10 am

Fred, I’ve seen too many numbers for your nonsense to have even the minutest effect on my thinking. This doesn’t even address the $Billions of remittances that leave our economy
+++++++++++++++++++++

I’m not a Rushbot or a Neal Lemming. Show me some hard data pal, not just racist words on a blog.

Poor Boy from Alabama

August 24th, 2012
9:14 am

The seeds of our current mess were planted by various presidents over the years. Some of these seeds were planted by errors of commission and some by errors of omission.

Automation, globalization, out of control immigration, and poor trade policies have all taken a toll on US businesses and American workers. Multiple industries and communities have taken big hits.

Manufacturing jobs in this country are down to a level we haven’t seen since 1941. The overall employment to population ratio for Americans 16 and older as of July (58.4%) is as low as it has been since September 1983. The picture is even worse if you factor out the large numbers of women who entered the labor force beginning in the 1960s and 1970s – sometimes by choice, but often out of necessity since one paycheck non longer guaranteed a solid middle class existence.

The employment to population ratio for white males 20 and older has gone steadily downhill since 1955, falling from 85.5% in January of 1956 to 68.4% as of July 2012.

All of the above stats can be verified from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Manufacturing series ID: CES3000000001
E-Pop series ID for all Americans 16 and over: LNS12300000
E-Pop series ID for white males 20 and over: LNS12300028

Things won’t turn around until our leaders develop new policies that will help make our companies and citizens more competitive in the global marketplace.

The list of things required to get America back on track is long. Neither Obama, Romney, or most members of Congress have addressed these issues in a meaningful way.

You should also point out that respondents to the poll blamed Congress more than any other institution or individual for our current economic mess. Banks and other financial institutions, the favorite whipping boy of many pundits, came in second.

RB from Gwinnett

August 24th, 2012
9:15 am

Our middle class is being buried by a lazy class that can’t be bothered to do the only work they’re qualified to do and some 30MM mexicans doing the work under the tax mans radar.

andygrdzki

August 24th, 2012
9:15 am

From Bloomberg:

“As a candidate in 2008, Obama blamed the reversals largely on the policies of Bush and other Republicans. He cited census figures showing that median income for working-age households — those headed by someone younger than 65 — had dropped more than $2,000 after inflation during the first seven years of Bush’s time in office.

Yet real median household income in March was down $4,300 since Obama took office in January 2009 and down $2,900 since the June 2009 start of the economic recovery, according to an analysis of census data by Sentier Research, an economic- consulting firm in Annapolis, Maryland.

And remember in 2009 in a Democratic House and Senate……
H.R. 4154, passed yesterday, was introduced by Blue Dog Democrat Earl Pomeroy. All but 26 Democrats voted for the tax cut, and those 26 voted against the legislation because they wanted even bigger tax cuts for wealthy Americans.
Pomeroy’s bill took current estate tax levels and reduced them by 18 percent. The minimum tax-free inheritance was also raised, so that whereas people inheriting a million dollars didn’t have to pay any tax at all, now people inheriting three and a half million dollars get away with paying no taxes on the income.
It’s a tax cut designed to apply only to the very wealthy. The middle class doesn’t get a share. American families trying to survive on minimum wage certainly don’t get anything.
In fact, we working Americans are going to be paying for the Democrats’ tax cut for the wealthy. Pomeroy’s wealthy-only tax cut is going to cost the government billions of dollars every year. Who’s going to have to pay for that cost? Working Americans, that’s who.

F. Sinkwich

August 24th, 2012
9:15 am

“CEO salary and benefits caps, anyone?”

What a great idea, bless your heart.

We could form a sub-committee of O’bozo’s Death Panel mssioned to decide who was worthy of what compensation at what time and under what circumstances. Membership would be limited to union thugs, greenie weenies, and redistributionist Marxists.

Genius!

ByteMe - Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:16 am

i guess if I was worth several billions of dollars I could pay myself a dollar too.

Steve did that BEFORE he was worth several billion. In fact, he only had a hundred million or so in assets (from his Apple founder stock) when he chose to take on the wasteland that was Apple and turn it into a powerhouse. All without being paid a salary. How many CEOs have you heard about willing to put their own butts on the line like that?

barking frog

August 24th, 2012
9:16 am

The mindset of the sixties
may be at play. Deliberate
disregard for wealth, being
satisfied with less, pride in
poverty, self reliance and
all the attributes of the
family farm are now chic.
Nothing the government
can do.

larry

August 24th, 2012
9:17 am

Higher CEO pay over the last 30 years hasn’t and will not trickle down to the average worker, there is the problem.

EJ Moosa

August 24th, 2012
9:17 am

Joe,

I’d suggest you spend less time with cartoons and more time with what really creates job growth, which then leads to a stronger middle class, which was the topic of this blog, wasn’t it?

And while I know liberals HATE profits, profit growth is indeed necessary to create job growth.

Year over year profit growth has continued to deteriorate. Yet somehow folks continue to watch the job numbers each month, expecting a miracle or divine intervention(and that’s just not going to happen).

At some point you can acknowledge what really causes the effect you hope for, or you can just continue bemoaning the after affects, such as a declining middle class.

It seems that for many of you, the choice has already been made.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:17 am

I’m not your pal. The data’s out there. You’ve already seen it. It doesn’t fit your vision for the future so you ignore it. I know this. All conservatives know this.

And now for your ultimate weapon, the word RACIST !!!!!!! When I see that word misused I know there is a useful idiot in the house.

Bye, fool.

Morality?

August 24th, 2012
9:17 am

Morality? Obama don’t need no stinkin’ morality. Screw America is what he does best.

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:18 am

FSink – as stated, attach it to the lowest-paid employee of the company. If they want to be paid $10M/yr, that’s fine – then they need to raise the lowest-paid salaries (and everyone in between) accordingly.

and yes,

it IS genius.

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:19 am

“Higher CEO pay over the last 30 years hasn’t and will not trickle down to the average worker, there is the problem”

exactly my point.

Morality?

August 24th, 2012
9:19 am

Union Thugs aren’t middle class.

The Snark

August 24th, 2012
9:20 am

Jay, Jay, Jay … what’s with all the research and facts? Why don’t you just repeat other people’s talking points like Kyle does most of the time?

ByteMe - Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:21 am

The list of things required to get America back on track is long. Neither Obama, Romney, or most members of Congress have addressed these issues in a meaningful way

True. Underlying reason: POOR PEOPLE CAN’T BUY A POLITICIAN. Wealthy plutocrats can buy the policies that help them make the most money. Poor people have to rely on charitable politicians to even get heard. And then you have people who downright hate poor people and want to blame their own problems on the poor… which is pathetic, really.

Unions were the great leveling tool between the average person and the plutocrats when it came to political influence. That balance has changed dramatically with the loss of unionized jobs.

Not Blind

August 24th, 2012
9:22 am

@ Poor Boy for Alabama. Good post. Get prepared to be called an idiot. The libs around here remind me of a story of an ex-VC fighter from the VN war. His side WON !!!! Yahoooo !!!!! Unfortunately he ended up in a re-education camp for several years. Turns out he was fighting for a different outcome than his masters in Hanoi and he didn’t win at all.

Joe Hussein Mama

August 24th, 2012
9:24 am

Moosa — “Joe, I’d suggest you spend less time with cartoons and more time with what really creates job growth, which then leads to a stronger middle class, which was the topic of this blog, wasn’t it?”

(laughing) :D

You cited soul-crushing regulations and directed Jay to get serious about addressing their supposed corrosive effect on American business when the fact of the matter is that American business has ALWAYS managed to find ways to overcome that burden and prosper. Your argument as stated on page 1 is quite simply a non-starter.

“And while I know liberals HATE profits, profit growth is indeed necessary to create job growth.”

If you’re going to continue to put words in my mouth as you’ve been doing since Page 1, then you might as well simply continue this conversation on your own. If, OTOH, you’d deign to let me speak for myself, we might actually be able to have an adult conversation instead of the one-sided lecture you seem to be bent on conducting.

“Year over year profit growth has continued to deteriorate. Yet somehow folks continue to watch the job numbers each month, expecting a miracle or divine intervention(and that’s just not going to happen).”

Corporate profit levels and CEO compensation figures disagree with you. I’m sorry, but *regulations* aren’t what’s crushing the middle class out of existence. It’s those pesky profits and executive compensation that’s doing it.

“At some point you can acknowledge what really causes the effect you hope for”

Once again and for the third time, show me. Show me how regulation holds down worker compensation while simultaneously pressing executive compensation and corporate profit upward. I’d like to see that.

“or you can just continue bemoaning the after affects, such as a declining middle class. It seems that for many of you, the choice has already been made.”

Indeed, it does seem that you’ve made a choice.

mm

August 24th, 2012
9:24 am

“Yeah, get out of the way. Stop punishing success. Quit dreaming up job-killing regulations. End the war on our energy sector.”

Yeah, government got out of the way during the Bush years and the banks and Wall St. stole everyone blind. Sure, lets do THAT again.

ByteMe - Political thug

August 24th, 2012
9:25 am

That balance has changed dramatically with the loss of unionized jobs.

Now two billionaire brothers can buy an election outcome when facing off against several unions. Two people vs. tens of thousands and the two rich people won.

Matti

August 24th, 2012
9:25 am

The future of the shrinking middle class:

Spending all the money on soaring college costs (though lottery officials claim record sales and massive paychecks) and helping offspring through emergencies because they can’t find decent-paying jobs despite years of working their little tails off in school. Retiring at 75 or 80, unless getting shiz-canned at the office first, and replaced by a young person who’ll work for minimum wage. The house we spent decades paying for and keeping up — weekends in the yard and the joys of DIY — isn’t worth diddly squat anymore. The notion that it was an investment for our future has long since withered and blown away, and it’s starting to smell like old people anyway. Retirement investments, having taken huge hits after every little gain, help with scraping by, but there are no vacations to put the “golden” in the last years of life. Top-notch assisted-living facilities do exist, but not for people like us. Affordable kennels for the old & forgotten serve jail-quality food and employ surly, embittered minimum-wage workers who are angry at having to clean us up again — after all, they just cleaned us up yesterday — and as 85-yr-old adults, it’s about time we LEARN not to soil ourselves, doncha know.

larry

August 24th, 2012
9:25 am

Unions were the great leveling tool between the average person and the plutocrats when it came to political influence. That balance has changed dramatically with the loss of unionized jobs.

Agreed !! All anyone has to look at is the data from the last 30 years. Stagnant wages have coincided with the decline in uninized jobs. All the while CEO pay has accelarated upwards.

Thomas

August 24th, 2012
9:26 am

Technology/globalization is killing the middle class.

Ben

August 24th, 2012
9:27 am

More and more of the middle classes’ money gets sucked up in to various government programs, whether directly through taxation, or indirectly through a higher price on goods and services due to the taxes on the entities that provide those goods and services. Hard to stay middle class when so much of your money goes to support all those programs and the bottom 50% don’t even pay income tax.

godless heathen

August 24th, 2012
9:27 am

As frequently pointed out here, the “take home” pay of American workers has stagnated or declined in the past 40 years.while productivity has increased. First, I wonder about the productivity numbers. How do you measure productivity in jobs that involve shoving papers around? By hours at the desk? With so many jobs now not related to production of real products, how accurate are the productivity estimates?

If real productivity is about the same as it has always been, why would workers expect to be making any more than they did 30-40 years ago? The cost of producing the same product or service has increased due to a plethora of environmental, health & safety, and labor regulations. If one accepts the premise that these regulations are good things that benefit the people and their quality of life, then workers have received an intangible benefit that is not reflected in the charts Jay has shared.

2nd point is that we live in a global economy and the value received for goods and services is suppressed by international competition. Even service jobs such as Customer Service are affected by this.

While it may make us feel good to p*ss and moan about the wealth of the CEOs and the 1% ers, if you seize all their money and distribute it “fairly” to everyone, it would make an inconsequential difference.

F. Sinkwich

August 24th, 2012
9:30 am

By in large, people are paid what their jobs are worth and how well they do them.

Artificially upsetting that equilibrium would be disastrous for our economic future.

Adam

August 24th, 2012
9:30 am

We’re all just temporarily inconvenienced millionaires. I’ll be rich any day now, and so will you, and so will you…

Yep, any day now…. any day now…. The trickle is coming. THE TRICKLE IS COMING!

ty webb

August 24th, 2012
9:30 am

“Now two billionaire brothers can buy an election outcome when facing off against several unions.”

“Koch Bros.”! Drink!…can we get a “fox news” now.

larry

August 24th, 2012
9:31 am

Spending all the money on soaring college costs (though lottery officials claim record sales and massive paychecks

And Nathan, come January , will say the lottery will become broke again unless we do this , this, and take this away from our students.

The fact that attendence is down at universities statewide should be a telling sign that his tinkering with the HOPE scholarship was not needed .

Adam

August 24th, 2012
9:31 am

Yeah, get out of the way. Stop punishing success. Quit dreaming up job-killing regulations. End the war on our energy sector.

Keep saying that as loudly as you can. Because the more you say it, the more the general public recoils from your side.

gm

August 24th, 2012
9:33 am

manufacturing jobs has gone over seas thanks Mitt, but this guy has made billions off the back of middle class and can stand in front of middle class workers with a straight face and say I going to bring jobs back, no group of people can be this dumb””””

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:33 am

“Yeah, government got out of the way during the Bush years and the banks and Wall St. stole everyone blind. Sure, lets do THAT again.”

to be fair, that started before Bush was in office

Adam

August 24th, 2012
9:34 am

EJ Moosa: Amazing. It looks on your chart that we peaked just as Reid and Pelosi took control of the legislative branch of government.

You really think that is just coincidental?

Who was complaining when we hit that last peak?

Actually that last peak you’re referring to was near the end of 2008, when gas prices and the stock market and the whole global economy crashed.

If you can point to any single legislation that was done under Pelosi and Reid during 2007, and early 2008, that would have caused that, I am all ears. Otherwise, you’ll have to go with the majority of the public AND INDEPENDENT VOTERS who blame it on Bush.

N-GA

August 24th, 2012
9:36 am

I have to go off topic here – In the previous Bookman blog (Lighter Side of Politics) one poster ) Class of 98) posted at 6:01 pm. He/she thinks he/she is smart…enlightened even. The simple fact is that he/she lacks basic comprehension skills. To measure philanthropy by measuring charitable contributions is ludicrous….myopic at best. Jimmy Carter and all the people at Habitat For Humanity contribute TIME, something that you cannot put a price on. All the people who volunteer for Feed The Hungry programs are doing the same. A wealthy Con writes a check, then goes to the Country Club for a set of tennis or a round of golf while less affluent people give something they cannot ever get back…TIME. So Class of 98, go write a check while the real philanthropists are out performing good works. At least I will acknowledge the good your dollars will produce…….

Adam

August 24th, 2012
9:37 am

And while I know liberals HATE profits,

Not Intended to Be a Factual Statement

Poor Boy from Alabama

August 24th, 2012
9:37 am

Not Blind@9:22

Thanks for the kind words.

As for name calling, Alabamians are used to it. Life calls so I won’t be around to see most of it.

Happy Friday everybody!

Ben

August 24th, 2012
9:39 am

mm: I’ve been waiting for someone to point out something specific the Bush government did to cause this. No one ever can. Oh, they point to the repeal of Glass-Stegall, but that happened during Clinton, and there are probably more economists who don’t think that had an effect than those that do. And of course there’s Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which Bush (and McCain) tried to rein in, but got deflected by Democrats. And those two entities, more than anything else, made the sub-prime market a great way for banks to make money. And then, of course, there’s the Fed, who kept interest rates too low for too long. A Fed run by Alan Greenspan, a former Ayn Rand acolyte whose reign at the Fed was full of t he kind of government manipulation that Rand would have been disgusted with.

But I’m sure you’ll come back with a non-reasoned response that amounts to, “It’s Bush’s fault because I say so!”

USinUK - pro-gay-marriage thug and former Girl Scout

August 24th, 2012
9:39 am

“And while I know liberals HATE profits,”

no, no, no … proPHets!!!