This is a blog for the members of the Central Texas Chapter of the World Future Society. It's purpose is to exchange and develop ideas about the future of Central Texas, especially Austin.
Monday, July 22, 2013
The State of America's Middle Class
The following was taken from "The State of America's Middle Class in Eight Charts" by Jason Breslow and Evan Wexler, Frontline, PBS. Click here for charts and article.
Wages are down
Middle class incomes have shrunk 8.5 percent since 2000, after
enjoying mostly steady growth during the previous decade. In 2011, the
average income for the middle 60 percent of households stood at $53,042,
down from $58,009 at the start of the millennium.
Less income for the middle class
Partly as a result of lower pay, the middle class’s share of the
nation’s total income has been falling. In 1980, the middle 60 percent
of households accounted for 51.7 of the country’s income. By 2011, they
were less than half. Meanwhile, the top fifth of households saw their
slice of the national income grow 16 percent, to 51.1 percent from 44.1
Union positions are shrinking
One factor behind the decline in income has been a drop-off in the
number of workers earning union salaries. In 2012, the median salary for
a unionized worker stood at roughly $49,000. The median pay for their
non-union counterparts was just shy of $39,000. Since 1983, however, the
share of the population belonging to a labor union has gone from
one-in-five workers to just over one-in-ten.
More workers stuck in part-time jobs
A second factor weighing down pay is the rise in the number of
Americans stuck in part-time jobs. In 2012, more than 2.5 million
Americans worked part-time jobs because they could not find a full-time
position, the most since 1993.
Fewer jobs from U.S.-based multinationals
Part of the challenge for job seekers is that U.S. multinational
corporations having been hiring less at home. These large, brand-name
firms employ roughly a fifth of American workers, but from 1999 to 2008
they shed 2.1 million jobs in the U.S. while adding more than 2.2
million positions abroad.
Predictably, the economic pressures facing the middle class have left
families deeper in debt. . In 1992, the median level of debt for the
middle third of families stood at $32,200. By 2010, that figure had
swelled to $84,000, an increase of 161 percent.
Families are saving less
The rise in debt has meant fewer families have the ability to put
away money for things like retirement or a child’s tuition bills. In
2001, more than two-thirds of middle class families said they were able
to save money in the preceding year. By 2010, that figure was below 55
Net worth has plunged
The impact on family net worth — the amount by which assets exceed
liabilities — has been painful. In 2007, median net worth peaked at
$120, 600. Then came the financial crisis, which pushed millions of
Americans into joblessness and home foreclosure. By 2010, net worth had
plummeted 36 percent, to $77,300.