Thursday, June 21, 2012

Half the U.S. is poor

Almost as true now
But the mainstream media doesn't seem to get that. Take a National Journal story from January, which said,
...on most questions measuring changes in economic circumstances, the slowdown has imposed greater costs on those at the economy's margins -- lower-income families, those without advanced education, and, in many cases, minorities.
The word "margins" jumped out at us. Low-income families are not a small, marginal percent of the population. The poor are half the U.S. economy.

The U.S. Census says so. Reports The Atlantic:
Earning $45,000 or less annually per household is the U.S. Census Bureau's threshold for calling someone "low-income," and according to the bureau's latest figures, 48 percent of U.S. citizens fall into this category. 146.4 million U.S. citizens are now defined by their government as low-income -- with 49.1 million falling below the poverty line of $22,350...
An epidemic of low-wage jobs is destroying the opportunity in what used to be the Land of Opportunity. Peter Edelman explains in Common Dreams:
A third of our population ekes by on less than $36,000 for a family of three. That's 103 million people living on less than twice the poverty line, but most of them technically aren't poor or don't consider themselves poor. Yet they struggle every month to make ends meet and are one medical emergency or protracted illness away from bankruptcy. 
Why so much low-wage work? Because over the past 40 years, well-paying industrial jobs disappeared, unions lost much of their clout, the minimum wage stagnated, and the field of competition in many areas became globalized.
The result: half of U.S. jobs now pay $34,000 or less a year. A quarter of U.S. jobs pay less than $22,000, the poverty line for a family of four. And the wages for those jobs have been stuck for four decades. Today, they pay only 7 percent more than they did in 1973.
Edelman concludes poverty and inequality are destroying democracy.