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Time for Workers to Re-Organize!

ORGANIZED LABOR? 

Regardless of what you have been lead to believe about the evils of unions, there is no question that organized labor is responsible for creatiing the middle class and the good life as we know it today. But all that is in decline as anti-union sentiment grew in response to organized business interests in the 1070’s. I say this because I don’t see anyone else point out these facts. Here is another graphic view of how middle class income has declined in lock step with union membership over the years. Also, you will see that the savings in employee wages have gone directlty to the top 1% creating the huge income and wealth disparity we have today. Check it out:

It is clear to me, at least, that the heart of our economic woes is due to 40 years of wage suppression. This results in a declining middle class, a growing number of people falling into poverty, a decline in federal income tax revenue and an added burden on government to support a growing number of poor, working poor and unemployed Americans. You can’t separate chronically lower wages from our declining consumer spending. Regardless of what the economists say, if people don’t have money to spend the economy slows down and jobs disappear. Stocks are doing so well because so much of our financial sector is based on even more depressed foreign labor, yes, but also on depressed wages here at home.

If corporations what to stimulate consumer spending here, and make America attractive to foreign investors, they need to raise wages. They won’t do that because they personally benefit, financially, by keeping labor costs down. Their corporations benefit from the artificially cheap US labor pool created by government aid to the working poor for housing assistance, WIC, food stamps, daycare, etc. And then these bastards making all the money have the nerve to pit us against each other by promoting the lie that the working poor are somehow less worthy, or that they are stealing from us. If corporate leaders don’t see the light then the only alternative is for the work force to re-organize itself and demand higher wages.

 

Four Graphs on What Hurts the Working Class

We never hear any reference to the working class these days. The media and our politicians only speak of the “middle class” as if that covers everyone who isn’t either poor or wealth. Even references to the poor are scarce. The working class exists. They are sandwiched between the poor and the middle class and they are being squeezed into poverty. It is cruel to ignore them and the terrible pain they are suffering. What has happened to them, aside from being ignored can only be touched on by the four graphs that follow. These were presented in a conversation I had with conservative friend of mine who has forgotten the working class exists. There are many factors hurting the working class. This conversation was only about four factors, wage suppression, the upward redistribution of wealth, working class decent into poverty and declining upward mobility. Post this is my way of addressing what I believe is the most hurtful factor of  them all… public silence.

Q:  I always thought of the owners as the producers of the jobs that the workers have. You say that it is the workers who are the producers. Have you ever been employed by someone on welfare?

A:  Owners coordinate the workforce, but it the employees who do the work that makes the products or services. So in a real sense, the workers ARE the producers. And this has nothing to do with welfare at all.  Jobs are not a product. Stuff is a product. Things to sell or trade is a product. Workers are key to making stuff or offering stuff yet when they want a fair share of the value they create they are treated like thieves. Read this and you will know what I am talking about even if you don’t agree:

http://aseyeseesit.blogspot.com/…/fair-wage-for-days…

hourly GDP vs Wage graph

I also just ran across this table (below) that shows were all the Hourly GDP wealth has gone since the mid-’70’s.

CEO Compensation

Source:  https://scontent-a-lga.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/1480602_10200873563747333_1576469932_n.jpg

Q:  Why should it matter how much a C.E.O. makes if their workers remain on the job? It’s one of the great things about this country. You can work where ever and for whom ever you want.  Someone please explain to me why it is greed for C.E.O.’s to make deals to be paid as much as the market will bear but it is ok for workers to make deals to make as much as the market will bear.

 A:  It may not matter to you at all, but anyone who wonder why they can’t have collective barganing while the CEO is making 400 times their salary might have questions, especially since this is strictly a feature of the US economy and others around the world are paid better than we are relative to their economies.

Don’t forget, almost  40% of people who work full time are poor. I’m not sure what percentage of the poor they account for, but it is clear when we speak of the poor we are not speaking only of people who are disabled, elderly, retired or unemployed.

Working and Non working Poor bar graph

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wi…/en/7/74/Pov_crossnatl.jpeg

Note here that in the US, the number of working poor (blue bar in right hand column) is twice the number of non-working poor. So when you and I talk about the poor, you are defining it as welfare recipients while I broadly define it as everyone living below the poverty line, the majority of whom work full time. That’s partly why we have a disconnect on this topic. In my understanding, most poor people work.

Q:  I wonder how many of the poor who are now C.E.O.’s would agree with you? Or would they say : “Work hard towards your goal, as I did, and you can achieve anything.”.  Isn’t this what made our economy great?  Not people who wanted a wage so they could be comfortable in the position they have today?  Flipping burgers at McDonalds is not supposed to be a permanent career goal. Even the management at McDonalds wants people to move up. Or am I wrong about incentive and ambition?

A:   There are 17,000 companies with 500 employees or more. There are 43 million poor. If 20% of CEO’s started out as poor children that would mean there are only about 4,200 CEO openings for 43 million potential applicants. It’s a safe bet that far fewer than 20% of CEO’s come from poverty. In fact, less than 20% of children born to poorest families will make it into the middle class in their lifetime. Less than 8% will make over $140k/year, which is approximately the income line where the richest fifth starts. Of those at the top, only the smallest fraction will become a CEO. I believe that if you really understood the economic situation in America you, of all the folks I know, would be a big supporter of the working class.

Upward Mobility bar graph

source: http://www.pewtrusts.org/…/Eco…/PEW_Upward%20EM%2014.pdf

As for incentive and ambition, a good paying job that makes one economically self-sufficient is the highest motivator.  But a self-sufficient wage for a single earners is over  $30,000/year whereas the median wage for a single earners is less than $26,000/year. In other words, the incentives are less than optimal in today’s economy, and no amount of hard work or individual effort will make a difference for most people until even low wage workers receive a fair wage for a days work.

Are Banks Banking On Student Debt?

by Brian T. Lynch, MSW 

College graduates have always earned more in their lifetime than non-college graduates, but higher tuition costs is increasing borrowing and the higher interest rates on these loans is taking a bit out of their future.  In addition, there continues to exist a higher unemployment rate for college graduates.

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York just released its quarterly Household Debt report. It reveals that non-housing debt is rising and student loans are a big contributor.  Non-housing debt increased 2.8% since last quarter and 4.9% from a year ago. Housing debt decreased 1.9% from a year ago.

Looking at just the non-housing debt, student loans account for 36% of the total, up a percent from a year ago. Auto loan debt is increasing faster over the last year and now accounts for 30% of all non-housing debt.  Student loan debt rose 4% from the last quarter and 7.29% from a year ago.  Meanwhile credit card debt is unchanged over the past 12 months while other forms of non-housing debt declined by over 3%.

The Federal Reserve also reported good news that 90-day delinquency rates on household debt has declined. For the banking industry it is a twin blessing when borrowing rises and delinquency falls. For consumers it is a mixed blessing, at best. But, when you look at the particular, it is immediately clear that college educated adults are in serious trouble.  They are defaulting as never before. Look at the line graph below and you will see what I mean. The student loan default is the red line that starts as the third highest default rate in 2004 to exceed credit card and auto loan defaults as of  last year.

Debt Default Graph

Source: Fed Report http://www.newyorkfed.org/regional/householdcredit.html

According to the Fed report, outstanding student loan balances increased to $1.027 trillion as of September 30, 2013, a $33 billion increase from the second quarter.  The 90+ day delinquency rate increased, and is now at 11.8%.

Full Report: http://www.newyorkfed.org/research/national_economy/householdcredit/DistrictReport_Q32013.pdf

Higher tuition costs means greater borrowing which results in higher monthly payments on the debt. The high rate of unemployed, or underemployed college graduates is part of the reason for the higher default rates.  What follows is a snippet from an excellent article in the Atlantic Monthly. (Go there to read it in full)

How Bad Is the Job Market For College Grads? Your Definitive Guide

JORDAN WEISSMANN APR 4 2013

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/04/how-bad-is-the-job-market-for-college-grads-your-definitive-guide/274580/

They’re Better Off Than High School Grads … Bachelor’s holders (in blue below) have about half the unemployment rate of high school graduates (in red below). BA’s are still suffering from double the low rate of joblessness they enjoyed pre-recession. And yes, they’re even worse off than they were during the tepid economies of the early nineties or pre-housing bubble oughts. But on the whole, you’d much rather have a degree in this job market than not.

BLS_Employment_by_Education.png

But They’re Still Hurting… That’s all bachelor’s holders, though (or at least the ones over 25, who the Bureau of Labor Statistics routinely tracks). So what about young adults just off campus? The numbers aren’t a nightmare, but they aren’t especially pleasant either. Last month, the Bureau released a special report looking at Americans under 30 who’d earned a bachelor’s in the past year, as of October of 2011. About 73 percent were employed (the paper didn’t specify between full time and part-time). More than 11 percent were still looking for work.

BLS_Employment_Recent_College_Grads.JPG

 In addition to the higher rate of unemployment, rising tuition costs over the past decade has meant larger monthly payments. College tuition costs have even risen faster than medical costs, and much faster than the consumer price index.  Below is a very clear graphic depiction of this from Professor Mark J. Perry out of the University of Michigan.

Professor Mark J. Perry’s Blog for Economics and Finance

 The chart above illustrates graphically the “higher education bubble” by comparing the annual increases in the CPI for “College tuition and fees” (7.45% per year since 1978) to annual increases in the CPI for “medical care” (5.8% per year since 1978) to annual increases in the median price for new homes (4.3% per year) to the annual increases in the “CPI for all items” (3.8% per year) 

 [See more at: http://mjperry.blogspot.com/2011/07/higher-education-bubble-college-tuition.html#sthash.HF1DSyOu.dpuf ]

The good news, according to the Trends in Education Website, is that the rate of tuition increases is declining.  Here below is a snippet from their Website.

Average Rates of Growth of Published Charges by Decade

http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-rates-growth-tuition-and-fees-over-time

The 2.9% one-year increase in average published tuition and fees for in-state students at public four-year institutions in 2013-14 was 0.9% after adjusting for inflation. This relatively small increase in prices means that despite very large annual increases earlier in the decade, tuition inflation between 2003-04 and 2013-14 was similar to that between 1983-84 and 1993-94.

Figure 4: Average Annual Percentage Increases in Inflation-Adjusted Published Prices by Decade, 1983-84 to 2013-14

Download Data in Excel

See Key Points|See Also Important

Tuition Rates Bar Chart

 Each bar in Figure 4 shows the average annual rate of growth of published prices in inflation-adjusted dollars over a 10-year period. For example, from 2003-04 to 2013-14, average published tuition and fees at private nonprofit four-year colleges rose by an average of 2.3% per year beyond increases in the Consumer Price Index.

A third reason why so many college students are unable to pay their loans is the rising cost of financing those loans. Karen Weise recently wrote a an article in Business Week that laid out the problem of higher student loan rates.  A snippet appears below.

Why Your Student Loan Interest Rate Is So High

By Karen Weise  April 04, 2013

Business Week

Joe Szczepaniak pays a 3.5 percent interest rate on the mortgage for his house in a Chicago suburb. His car loan is 1.79 percent. The federal education loans he took out to send his four sons to college? They’re all above 7 percent. “Student loans have been the big black holes of my budget,” he says. Szczepaniak, who calls himself “Mr. Quicken” because he carefully tracks his finances, questions why the $200,000-plus he owes on the student loans doesn’t “reflect reality” and today’s low rates.

The answer is that Congress, not the market, sets rates for federal loans—which account for 85 percent of the roughly $1 trillion in outstanding education debt—and refinancing to a lower rate is rarely an option. Now some lawmakers and private lenders are looking for ways to give education borrowers more repayment and refinancing options.

[Read more at http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-04-04/why-your-student-loan-interest-rate-is-so-high ]

Student loan rate had been set to double, so congress acted to mitigate the sudden increase that was to occur.  There is good information on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Website detailing the recent changes.  An update on government student loan interest rates was recently published (see below).  At a time when I can get a car loan from my credit union with an interest rate below 3%, our college students can’t get a federally subsidized student loan for under 3.86%, and private bank loans for students is even higher.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

Updated on August 13, 2013:
Last week, the president signed legislation passed by Congress to adjust federal student loan interest rates for this academic year. Here’s what the new rates look like:

Student Loan Rates per CFPB

http://www.consumerfinance.gov/blog/changes-to-federal-student-loan-interest-rates/

We have to stop and ask ourselves what the long term impact will be on our children and our economy if we don’t do more to make college affordable.

Austerity for Dummies, Like Us

Imagine owning a small manufacturing business with 25 happy employees.  After paying overhead , suppliers, employees, benefits and your Potter’s Bank business loan you have just enough to get by.

One day your suppliers find they can’t get raw materials because of artifical shortages and price spikes caused by futures speculators that work at bank. The suppliers they need to borrow money to pay for higher priced raw materials, at least until they can adjust with worker layoff and cutbacks. Potter’s Bank charges them higher interest rates because now they’re “risky” borrowers.

Your suppliers must pass along their higher costs to you, so now its your turn to cut wages, benefits and hours. Your employees grumble and can’t keep up with the workload. Production stalls, but also sales start to drop because all the affected workers are also your customers.

One day you discover you can’t pay the bank loan, so you go to Potter’s Bank to renegotiate terms.  Potter tells you what he has been telling everyone:

“You’re a credit risk! Your workers make too much and the cost of their benefits is rising. Cut benefits, cut wages, layoff some of those lazy workers and you will be more efficient. Only then will I loan you the money you need.  Do as I ask or Ill  raise your interest rates further or foreclose on your business.”

This is the austerity trap. Bankers use their leverage to play both ends against the middle forcing both businesses and governments to be more labor efficient. It squeezes more production out of fewer workers for lower wages and benefits. It also suppresses consumption because fewer consumers are employed and those who work have less income or job security. It doesn’t matter if austerity is imposed on businesses or the public sector, the effects are the same.

Imposing austerity is like digging a hole in the economy, the more you dig the deeper the hole. It is good for bankers but bad for workers. It increases corporate profits but reduces personal incomes (except for the very rich). It shrinks the size of government but reduces support to the poor and unemployed people it creates.  What ever hurts workers hurts consumers which suppresses consumption and depresses the economy, which then hurts more workers in a literally vicious cycle.

Making debt reduction a priority during a recession, rather than creating jobs and putting money back into the hands of consumers, is austerity. As the article below points out with a graph, shutting down the government and causing the government sequester to lower government spending at this time has hurt recovery. It is the wrong prescription.

In a World Without Austerity…

By Adam Hersh | October 4, 2013

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/economy/news/2013/10/04/76305/in-a-world-without-austerity/

Thanks to the federal government shutdown, there is an absence of new U.S. job market data for September 2013. Let’s take a moment to imagine the kind of economy we might see in the United States today had we not just lived through three years of fiercely divisive politicking for fiscal austerity—sharp cuts to public services and investments, as well as cuts to taxes on America’s wealthiest people.

If federal and state governments had not adopted policies of fiscal austerity, today’s jobs report from the Department of Labor would likely be telling us, as shown in Figure 1:

  • U.S. employers added more than 260,000 jobs in September.
  • The unemployment rate for September fell below 6 percent.
  • Since December 2010, the U.S. economy has added more than 8.2 million new jobs—or 2.4 million more than have actually been added.

employment without fiscal austerity

Immigration Myths Hide the Benefits Says US Chamber of Commerce

From the US Chamber of Commerce: This ultra-conservative organization finally comes clean with a DATA DRIVEN VIEWPOINT support their position on immigration and how it benefits the US economically.  http://www.scribd.com/doc/179652570/Immigration-Myths-and-Facts

 Immigration Myths and Facts

Despite the numerous studies and carefully detailed economic reports outlining the positive effects of immigration, there is a great deal of misinformation about the impact of immigration.  It is critical that policymakers and the public are educated about the facts behind these fallacies. [Says the US Chamber of Commerce]  

Below I present the major points of their arguments. Please go to their website to read a detailed explanation for each of these points. 

JOBS  MYTH: Every job filled by an immigrant is a job that could be filled by an unemployed American.

FACT: Immigrants typically do not compete for jobs with native-born workers and immigrants create jobs as entrepreneurs, consumers, and taxpayers
WAGES MYTH: Immigrants drive downthe wages of American workers.
FACT: Immigrants give a slight boost to the average wages of Americans by increasing their productivity and stimulating investment
ECONOMY MYTH: The sluggish U.S. economy doesn’t need more immigrant workers.
FACT: Immigrants will replenish the U.S. labor force as millions of Baby Boomers retire.
UNEMPOLOMENT MYTH: At a time oF high unemployment, the U.S. economy does not need temporary foreign workers.
FACT: Temporary workers from abroad fill specialized needs in specifc sectors of the U.S. economy.
HIGH-TECH WORKERS MYTH: There is no shortfall of native-born Americans for open positions in the natural sciences, engineering, and computer science and thus no need for foreign-born high-tech workers.
FACTS: Job openings are expanding at educational levels where demographic data show too few native-born students, so we can expect these shortfalls to persist in the future. Moreover, relative to other economic indicators, wages are increasing in STEM jobs requiring higher education.
COMMUNITY IMPACT MYTH: Immigrants hurt communities that are struggling economically.
FACT: Immigrants have economically revitalized many communities throughout the country.
TAXES MYTH: Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes.
FACT: Undocumented immigrants pay billions of dollars in taxes each year.
WELFARE MYTH: Immigrants come to theUnited States for welfare benefts.
FACT: Undocumented immigrants arenot eligible for federal public beneftprograms, and even legal immigrants face stringent eligibility restrictions.
INTEGRATION MYTH: Today’s immigrants are not assimilating into U.S. society.
FACT: Today’s immigrants are buying homes, becoming U.S. citizens, and learning English.
CRIME MYTH: Immigrants are more likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans.
FACT: Immigration does not cause crime rates to rise, and immigrants are actually less likely to commit crimes or be behind bars than native-born Americans.
BORDER SECURITY MYTH: Reforming the legal immigration system will not help secure the border.
FACT: Immigration reform is an integral part of any effective border security strategy.

Articles on Growing US Poverty

Median household income remained about the same in 2012 after two consecutive years of decline, according to the latest US Census numbers. It now stands at $51,100 per year for a family of four. That means a single breadwinner with three dependents would have to make $24.57 per hour to be in the middle of middle class. That works out to three and a third full-time minimum wage jobs. Of course median income statistics don’t include employer benefits, such as paid health insurance. Benefits can add up to an additional 1/3 in value above paid wages.  People making close to minimum wage are far less likely to have employer benefits, making direct income comparisons more complex than it seems. For example, a person making $24 per hour with a full benefit package would actually be making $32/hr. or about $68,000 per year with wages and benefits.

Below are several articles about the newly released data on those who fall far below the median income level.  This is followed by the actual press release from the US Census Bureau. 

30 Percent of Single American Moms Are Living in Poverty

By 

| posted Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013

Mothers are now the primary breadwinners in four out of ten American households. But the gender shift in these families hasn’t necessarily translated to increased economic agency for women and children. New Census numbers show that U.S. women were more likely to live in poverty than men in 2012, particularly if they’re raising families alone. Over 30 percent of families led by single moms are living in poverty, compared to 16.4 percent of families led by single dads. Families run by women bring in a median annual income of $34,002; those led by men bring in $48,634 a year. There are also a lot more families living in the former category than the latter.

READ MORE HERE: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/09/19/census_poverty_data_not_good_for_women_particularly_single_women.html

OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR

The Mismeasure of Poverty

THE Census Bureau reported yesterday that the poverty rate in America held stable between 2011 and 2012, at about 15 percent. According to the official measure, poverty today is higher than it was in 1973, when it reached a historical low of 11.1 percent. [snip]

All things being equal, such programs, whether we count them or not, should have reduced the official poverty rate across generations. But all things have not been equal. Although these programs help the poor, poverty remains high because inequality of economic outcomes has increased sharply since the 1970s.

Before income inequality took off, the poverty rate fell more rapidly with G.D.P. growth. But while the economy grew by 2.8 percent in 2012 and corporate profits went up as a share of national income, the earnings of full-time workers, median household income and the poverty rate barely changed.

Antipoverty programs do help, but their recipients don’t move forward because they no longer benefit much from that other great poverty-ameliorating factor, economic growth.

READ MORE AT: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/18/opinion/the-mismeasure-of-poverty.html?_r=0

US Census Report Shows Entrenched Poverty and Declining Living Standards

A US Census Bureau report released Tuesday, entitled “Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012,” makes a mockery of President Barack Obama’s claims to be restoring “security and opportunity for the middle class” in the wake of the 2008 financial breakdown.

The report provides a snapshot of a society in immense crisis. Poverty is at a near-generation high of 15 percent, close to the high point since the 1965 War on Poverty, the 15.2 percent rate reached in 1983. According to Tuesday’s report, 46.5 million Americans, including 9.5 million families, live in poverty.

Some 20.4 million people live on an income less than 50 percent of the official poverty line, 7.1 million of these being children under 18. More than 48 million remain without health insurance.

More than 31 percent of the population experienced some period of impoverishment during the years 2009-2011. Median household income, at $51,017, was slightly lower than in 2011, and down by 8.3 percent from 2007. The number of people 65 and older living in poverty increased from 3.6 million to 3.9 million between 2011 and 2012.

Despite more than four years of so-called “recovery,” American society remains plagued by mass deprivation and entrenched poverty. The “recovery” under Obama is limited to the wealthy and the super-rich, who have recovered all of the losses they suffered in the immediate aftermath of the Wall Street crash of September 2008 and grown richer than they were before the financial crisis. Social inequality has deepened as a result of policies designed to further redistribute wealth from the bottom of society to the top.

– See more at: http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-census-report-shows-entrenched-poverty-and-declining-living-standards/5350343#sthash.XvGbIoN6.dpuf

Household Incomes Remain Flat Despite Improving Economy

<nyt_byline>

By 
Published: September 17, 2013

WASHINGTON — Despite the addition of more than two million jobs last year, soaring corporate profits and continuing economic growth, income for the typical American household did not rise in 2012 and poverty failed to fall, new data from the Census Bureau show.

Over a longer perspective, the figures reveal that the income of the median American household today, adjusted for inflation, is no higher than it was for the equivalent household in the late 1980s.

For all but the most highly educated and affluent Americans, incomes have stagnated, or worse, for more than a decade. The census report found that median household income, adjusted for inflation, was $51,017 in 2012, down about 9 percent from an inflation-adjusted peak of $56,080 in 1999, mostly as a result of the longest and most damaging recession since the Depression. Most people have had no gains since the economy hit bottom in 2009.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  TUESDAY, SEPT. 17, 2013

Income, Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that in 2012, real median household income and the poverty rate were not statistically different from the previous year, while the percentage of people without health insurance coverage decreased.

Median household income in the United States in 2012 was $51,017, not statistically different in real terms from the 2011 median of $51,100. This followed two consecutive annual declines.

The nation’s official poverty rate in 2012 was 15.0 percent, which represents 46.5 million people living at or below the poverty line. This marked the second consecutive year that neither the official poverty rate nor the number of people in poverty were statistically different from the previous year’s estimates. The 2012 poverty rate was 2.5 percentage points higher than in 2007, the year before the economic downturn.

The percentage of people without health insurance coverage declined to 15.4 percent in 2012 ─ from 15.7 percent in 2011. However, the 48.0 million people without coverage in 2012 was not statistically different from the 48.6 million in 2011.

These findings are contained in the report Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012. The following results for the nation were compiled from information collected in the 2013 Current Population Survey (CPS) Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC). The CPS-ASEC was conducted between February-April 2013 and collected information about income and health insurance coverage during the 2012 calendar year. However, the information on shared households pertains to the circumstances at the time of the survey. The CPS-based report includes comparisons with one year earlier. State and local results will be available on Thursday from the American Community Survey.

Income

  • Real median incomes in 2012 for family households ($64,053) and nonfamily households ($30,880) were not statistically different from the levels in 2011.
  • A comparison of real household income over the past five years shows an 8.3 percent decline since 2007, the year before the nation entered an economic recession.

Race and Hispanic Origin 
(Race data refer to people reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)

  • Changes in real median household income were not statistically significant for race and Hispanic-origin groups between 2011 and 2012. (See Table A.)

Regions

  • The West experienced an increase of 3.2 percent in real median household income between 2011 and 2012, while the changes for the remaining regions were not statistically significant. In 2012, households with the highest median incomes were in the West and the Northeast (with medians that were not statistically different from each other), followed by the Midwest and the South. (See Table A.)

Nativity

  • In 2012, households maintained by a naturalized citizen or a native-born citizen had higher median incomes than households maintained by a noncitizen. The real median incomes of households maintained by a native- or foreign-born person, regardless of citizenship status, in 2012 were not statistically different from their respective 2011 medians. (See Table A.)

Earnings

  • The changes in the real median earnings of men and women who worked full time, year- round between 2011 and 2012 were not statistically significant. In 2012, the median earnings of women who worked full time, year-round ($37,791) was 77 percent of that for men working full time, year-round ($49,398) ─ not statistically different from the 2011 ratio. The female-to-male earnings ratio has not experienced a statistically significant annual increase since 2007.
  • The number of men working full time, year-round with earnings increased by 1.0 million between 2011 and 2012; the change for women was not statistically significant.

Income Inequality

  • The Gini index was 0.477 in 2012, not statistically different from 2011. Since 1993, the earliest year available for comparable measures of income inequality, the Gini index has increased 5.2 percent. (The Gini index is a measure of household income inequality across the nation, with zero representing total income equality and one equivalent to total inequality.)
  • Changes in income inequality between 2011 and 2012 were not statistically significant as measured by the shares of aggregate household income that each quintile received.

Poverty

  • In 2012, the family poverty rate and the number of families in poverty were 11.8 percent and 9.5 million. Neither level was statistically different from the 2011 estimates.
  • In 2012, 6.3 percent of married-couple families, 30.9 percent of families with a female householder and 16.4 percent of families with a male householder lived in poverty. Neither the poverty rates nor the estimates of the number of families in poverty for these three family types showed any statistically significant change between 2011 and 2012.

Thresholds

  • As defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the consumer price index, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2012 was $23,492.

(See <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/poverty/data/threshld/index.html> for the complete set of dollar value thresholds that vary by family size and composition.)

Sex

  • In 2012, 13.6 percent of males and 16.3 percent of females were in poverty. Neither poverty rate showed a statistically significant change from its 2011 estimate.

Race and Hispanic Origin 
(Race data refer to people reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)

  • The poverty rate for non-Hispanic whites was lower in 2012 than it was for other racial  groups. Table B details 2012 poverty rates and numbers in poverty, as well as changes since 2011 in these measures, for race groups and Hispanics. None of these groups experienced a statistically significant change in their poverty rate between 2011 and 2012.

Age

  • In 2012, 13.7 percent of people 18 to 64 (26.5 million) were in poverty compared with 9.1 percent of people 65 and older (3.9 million) and 21.8 percent of children under 18 (16.1 million).
  • No age group experienced a statistically significant change in the number or rates of people in poverty between 2011 and 2012, with one exception: the number of people 65 and older in poverty rose between 2011 and 2012.

Nativity

  • The 2012 poverty rate was not statistically different from 2011 for either the native-born, naturalized citizens, noncitizens, or the foreign-born in general. Table B details 2012 poverty rates and the numbers in poverty, as well as changes since 2011 in these measures, by nativity.

Regions

  • The West was the only region to show a statistically significant change in its poverty rate, which declined from 15.8 percent in 2011 to 15.1 percent in 2012. The South was the only region in which the number in poverty changed, rising from 18.4 million in 2011 to 19.1 million in 2012. (See Table B.)

Shared Households

Shared households are defined as households that include at least one “additional” adult: a person 18 or older who is not enrolled in school and is not the householder, spouse or cohabiting partner of the householder.

  • In spring 2007, prior to the recession, there were 19.7 million shared households. By spring 2013, the number had increased to 23.2 million and their percentage of all households rose by 1.9 percentage points from 17.0 percent to 19.0 percent. Between 2012 and 2013, the number and percentage of shared households increased.
  • In spring 2013, 10.1 million young adults age 25-34 (24.1 percent) were additional adults in someone else’s household. Neither of these were statistically different from 2012.
  • It is difficult to precisely assess the impact of household sharing on overall poverty rates. Young adults age 25-34, living with their parents, had an official poverty rate of 9.7 percent, but if their poverty status were determined using only their own income, 43.3 percent had an income below the poverty threshold for a single person under age 65.

Health Insurance Coverage

  • The number of people with health insurance increased to 263.2 million in 2012 from 260.2 million in 2011, as did the percentage of people with health insurance (84.6 percent in 2012, 84.3 percent in 2011).
  • The percentage of people covered by private health insurance in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011, at 63.9 percent. This was the second consecutive year that the percentage of people covered by private health insurance coverage was not statistically different from the previous year’s estimate. The percentage covered by employment-based health insurance in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011, at 54.9 percent.
  • The percentage of people covered by government health insurance increased to 32.6 percent in 2012, from 32.2 percent. The percentage covered by Medicaid in 2012 was not statistically different from 2011, at 16.4 percent. The percentage covered by Medicare rose over the period, from 15.2 percent in 2011 to 15.7 percent in 2012. Since 2009, Medicaid has covered more people than Medicare (50.9 million compared with 48.9 million in 2012).
  • The percent of children younger than 18 without health insurance declined to 8.9 percent (6.6 million) in 2012 from 9.4 percent (7.0 million) in 2011. The uninsured rates did not show a statistical change for all other age groups: 19 to 25, 26 to 34, 35 to 44, 45 to 64 and people 65 and older.
  • The uninsured rate for children in poverty (12.9 percent) was higher than the rate for children not in poverty (7.7 percent).
  • In 2012, the uninsured rates decreased as household income increased from 24.9 percent for those in households with annual income less than $25,000 to 7.9 percent in households with income of $75,000 or more.

Race and Hispanic Origin 
(Race data refer to those reporting a single race only; Hispanics can be of any race)

  • The uninsured rate for Asians and Hispanics declined between 2011 and 2012, while the number of uninsured did not change significantly. For non-Hispanic whites and blacks, both measures in 2012 were not statistically different from 2011. (See Table C.)

Nativity

  • The proportion of the foreign-born population without health insurance in 2012 was about two-and-a-half times that of the native-born population. The uninsured rate declined for the foreign-born population between 2011 and 2012, while the 2012 rate was not statistically different from the 2011 rate for naturalized citizens and noncitizens. Table C details the 2012 uninsured rate and the number of uninsured, as well as changes since 2011 in these measures, by nativity.

Regions

  • The Northeast had the lowest uninsured rate in 2012. Between 2011 and 2012, the uninsured rate decreased for the Midwest and the West, while there were no statistically significant differences for the remaining two regions. Similarly, the number of uninsured people declined in the Midwest and the West, while there were no statistically significant changes for the other two regions. (See Table C.)

Supplemental Poverty Measure

The poverty statistics released today compare the official poverty thresholds to money income before taxes, not including the value of noncash benefits. The Census Bureau’s statistical experts, with assistance from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and in consultation with other appropriate agencies and outside experts, have developed a supplemental poverty measure to serve as an additional indicator of economic well-being by incorporating additional items such as tax payments and work expenses in its family resource estimates. It does not replace the official poverty measure and will not be used to determine eligibility for government programs.

Both the Census Bureau and the interagency technical working group that helped develop the supplemental poverty measure consider it to be a work in progress and expect that there will be improvements to the statistic over time. See Income, Poverty, and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States: 2012 for more information. The Census Bureau published preliminary poverty estimates using this supplemental measure in November 2011 and November 2012. Supplemental poverty estimates for 2012 will be published in fall 2013.

State and Local Estimates from the American Community Survey

On Thursday, the Census Bureau will release single-year estimates for 2012 of median household income, poverty and health insurance coverage for all states, counties, places and other geographic units with populations of 65,000 or more from the American Community Survey. These statistics will include numerous social, economic and housing characteristics, such as language, education, the commute to work, employment, mortgage status and rent. Later today, subscribers will be able to access these estimates on an embargoed basis.

The American Community Survey provides a wide range of important statistics about people and housing for every community across the nation. The results are used by everyone from town and city planners to retailers and homebuilders. The survey is the only source of local estimates for most of the 40 topics it covers for even the smallest communities.

The Current Population Survey Annual Social and Economic Supplement is subject to sampling and nonsampling errors. All comparisons made in the report have been tested and found to be statistically significant at the 90 percent confidence level, unless otherwise noted.

For additional information on the source of the data and accuracy of the estimates for the CPS, visit <http://www.census.gov/hhes/www/p60_245sa.pdf>.

Higher Wages – Good for Families, Good for Economy & Good for Business

Below is another graphic that speaks for itself. Not only does paying higher wages improve the US economy and the lives of every citizen, it also makes good business sense.

I have written extensively on wage history and the case for a living wagewealth distribution in America, our global business competitivenessthe dangers of our growing wealth inequality, and many other issues effecting middle and working class Americans, including and post on class warfare.


In a Labor Day message from former Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, he, ” breaks down what it’ll take for workers to get a fair share in this economy — including big, profitable corporations like McDonald’s and Walmart to pony up and finally pay fair wages. 

 

http://front.moveon.org/how-workers-can-get-a-fair-shake-a-labor-day-message-from-robert-reich/#.UiTEGDbVCup

There is a petition that you can sign if you click on the above link.  Please consider it your Labor Day obligation to those who struggled and even died to give you the benefits we still have today.

Labor Day – A Day for Reflection

Labor Day. For much of the world this is a day of reflection to honor the martyrs who stood up to wealthy capitalists in the fight for dignified employment, the eight-hour workday and the five-day work week. It is a day to honor those who sacrificed their lives so that we might be home in time to eat dinner with our families and to have Saturday’s off to watch our children play baseball or soccer. It is a reminder that many of the blessings we take for granted today came at a terrible price.  If we forget how we got these benefits they will slowly erode over time and history will reap itself.

Much of the world celebrates Labor Day not in August, but in May. Have you ever wondered why? Would you be surprised to learn that labor celebrations around the world commemorate events that took place in Chicago in 1816?  Students of history will recognize this as the Haymarket, or May Day Massacre.  Below is one account from the Encyclopedia of Chicago History via Wikipedia.  http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/571.html

Haymarket and May DayLABOR UNREST, 1886 (MAP)

On May 1, 1886, Chicago unionists, reformers, socialists,anarchists, and ordinary workers combined to make the city the center of the national movement for an eight-hour day. Between April 25 and May 4, workers attended scores of meetings and paraded through the streets at least 19 times. On Saturday, May 1, 35,000 workers walked off their jobs. Tens of thousands more, both skilled and unskilled, joined them on May 3 and 4. Crowds traveled from workplace to workplace urging fellow workers to strike. Many now adopted the radical demand of eight hours’ work for ten hours’ pay. Police clashed with strikers at least a dozen times, three with shootings.

At the McCormick reaper plant, a long-simmering strike erupted in violence on May 3, and police fired at strikers, killing at least two. Anarchists called a protest meeting at the West Randolph Street Haymarket, advertising it in inflammatory leaflets, one of which called for “Revenge!”

The crowd gathered on the evening of May 4 on Des Plaines Street, just north of Randolph, was peaceful, and Mayor Carter H. Harrison, who attended, instructedpolice not to disturb the meeting. But when one speaker urged the dwindling crowd to “throttle” the law, 176 officers under Inspector John Bonfield marched to the meeting and ordered it to disperse.

Then someone hurled a bomb at the police, killing one officer instantly. Police drew guns, firing wildly. Sixty officers were injured, and eight died; an undetermined number of the crowd were killed or wounded.

The Haymarket bomb seemed to confirm the worst fears of business leaders and others anxious about the growing labor movement and radical influence in it. Mayor Harrison quickly banned meetings and processions. Police made picketing impossible and suppressed the radical press. Chicago newspapers publicized unsubstantiated police theories of anarchist conspiracies, and they published attacks on the foreign-born and calls for revenge, matching the anarchists in inflammatory language. The violence demoralized strikers, and only a few well-organized strikes continued.
HAYMARKET POSTER, 2002

Police arrested hundreds of people, but never determined the identity of the bomb thrower. Amidst public clamor for revenge, however, eight anarchists, including prominent speakers and writers, were tried for murder. The partisan Judge Joseph E. Gary conducted the trial, and all 12 jurors acknowledged prejudice against the defendants. Lacking credible evidence that the defendants threw the bomb or organized the bomb throwing, prosecutors focused on their writings and speeches. The jury, instructed to adopt a conspiracy theory without legal precedent, convicted all eight. Seven were sentenced to death. The trial is now considered one of the worst miscarriages of justice in American history.

Many Americans were outraged at the verdicts, but legal appeals failed. Two death sentences were commuted, but on November 11, 1887, four defendants were hanged in the Cook County jail; one committed suicide. Hundreds of thousands turned out for the funeral procession of the five dead men. In 1893, Governor John Peter Altgeld granted the three imprisoned defendants absolute pardon, citing the lack of evidence against them and the unfairness of the trial.

Inspired by the American movement for a shorter workday, socialists and unionists around the world began celebrating May 1, or “May Day,” as an international workers’ holiday. In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union and other Communist countries officially adopted it. The Haymarket tragedy is remembered throughout the world in speeches, murals, and monuments. American observance was strongest in the decade before World War I. During the Cold War, many Americans saw May Day as a Communist holiday, and President Eisenhower proclaimed May 1 as “Loyalty Day” in 1955. Interest in Haymarket revived somewhat in the 1980s.

A monument commemorating the “Haymarket martyrs” was erected in Waldheim Cemetery in 1893. In 1889 a statue honoring the dead police was erected in the Haymarket. Toppled by student radicals in 1969 and 1970, it was moved to the Chicago Police Academy.

See How Much Money it Takes to Be Financially Secure in Your Town

What follows is a Family Budge Calculator put out by the Economic Policy Institute. www.epi.org/resources/budget/ The example shown here is for a two parent family with two children living in the capital city of New Jersey, Trenton. A typical family there needs over $75,000 in income per year to be financially secure. That means each parent would have to work full-time and be making at least $18/hour. Or, if only one parent worked, they would need to be pulling in $36/hour for their family to be financially secure. This is a long ways from minimum wage.

Family Budget Calculator

EPI’s Family Budget Calculator measures the income a family needs in order to attain a secure yet modest living standard by estimating community-specific costs of housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children).

As compared with official poverty thresholds such as the federal poverty line and Supplemental Poverty Measure, EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by. [To see and use the actual calculator for yourself readers of WordPress must go to the website at  http://www.epi.org/resources/budget/ ]

 

Family Types include:

One Parent, One Child One Parent, Two Children One Parent, Three Children Two Parents, One Child Two Parents, Two Children Two Parents, Three Children

States Include:

AK AL AR AZ CA CO CT DC DE FL GA HI IA ID IL IN KS KY LA MA MD ME MI MN MO MS MT NC ND NE NH NJ NM NV NY OH OK OR PA RI SC SD TN TX UT VA VT WA WI WV WY

Area Names In New Jersey Include:

Atlantic City, NJ MSA Bergen-Passaic, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area Jersey City, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area Middlesex-Somerset-Hunterdon, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area Monmouth-Ocean, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area Newark, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area Ocean City, NJ MSA Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD MSA Trenton-Ewing, NJ MSA Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ MSA Warren County, NJ HUD Metro FMR Area


RESULTS FOR TRENTON, NJ

Trenton-Ewing, NJ MSA (NJ)

Two Parents, Two Children

Item

Cost

Monthly Housing

$1206

Monthly Food

$754

Monthly Child Care

$1258

Monthly Transportation

$607

Monthly Health Care

$1519

Monthly Other Necessities

$502

Monthly Taxes

$447

Monthly Total

$6292

Annual Total

$75508

Family budgets are for 2013.

Learn more about EPI’s Family Budget Calculator

DATA: Download source data (Excel)

Is Our Obesity Epidemic a Result of the War on Wages?

America has a growing obesity epidemic. This we know for certain. We also know that obesity is far more prevalent among poor Americans and that more and more Americans are slipping into poverty.  Real, inflation adjusted wages have been stagnant for over 30 years. Current wages are in decline and the number of people below the poverty line is near an all time high. 

 obesity-700x400

What is the link between poverty and obesity?  It is a fact that the five states with the greatest obesity levels are also among the ten poorest states.  They are also among the states with the lowest life expectancy. One theory as to why the poor are more likely to be obese is that they don’t have access to healthy foods in poor neighborhoods. 

In April of this year the New York Times published an article highlighting two recent studies that looked at whether people in poor communities had access to stores and supermarkets that sold fresh, healthy foods. These  two studies found that the poor have as much, or more access to stores selling healthy foods. One study found that poor neighborhoods have twice as many fast food restaurants and corner stores, but almost twice as many supermarkets as well. So the “food desert” theory of why poor American are more obese appears to be false. 

A second theory on the connection between obesity and the poor is that they can’t afford to eat healthy. This is the “calories are cheap, nutrition is expensive” theory.  Supporting this notion a recent American Journal of Clinical Nutrition  study that found  $1 could buy 1,200 calories of potato chips but just 250 calories of vegetables and 170 calories of fresh fruit.  An excellent CNN article recently reported that:

“Ground beef that is 80/20 is fattier but cheaper than 90/10. Ground turkey breast is leaner than the other two but is usually the more expensive. And many of us can’t even begin to think about free-range chicken and organic produce — food without pesticides and antibiotics that’ll cost you a second mortgage in no time at all.”

And the cost of groceries is rising.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated the weekly grocery bill for a family of four was about at $134.50 in 2010 and $141.20 in 2011. An extra $7.00 per week is a lot for families living below the poverty line, especial when family incomes are in decline.

Other recent research also suggests a strong link between poverty, obesity and US food policy.  While genetics may play a role in obesity, socioeconomic class may be a better predictor of obesity.

AcademicEarth.org has posted a brief video on their Website explaining this link that also relates it to current U.S. food policies.  They report that Americans today eat 25% more calories than they did in the 1970’s (the same time period when hourly wages stopped rising with hourly productivity).  The additional calorie intake is skewed towards lower income families.  This important video federal food subsidies and other U.S. policies may be directly contributing to the current obesity crisis.  Please view the video here:   http://academicearth.org/electives/the-economic-cost-of-obesity/.

 

Created by AcademicEarth.org