[Marxism] The working class is growing poorer, statistics prove it

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Jul 26 07:26:35 MDT 2010

(The article is *very* revealing, even if it uses the term "middle 
class". Hat tip to "B" on LBO-Talk.)

The Middle Class in America Is Radically Shrinking. Here Are the Stats 
to Prove it
Posted Jul 15, 2010 02:25pm EDT by Michael Snyder in Recession

 From The Business Insider

Editor's note: Michael Snyder is editor of theeconomiccollapseblog.com

The 22 statistics detailed here prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that 
the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.

The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a 
staggering rate. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and 
most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now that 
is changing at a blinding pace.

So why are we witnessing such fundamental changes? Well, the globalism 
and "free trade" that our politicians and business leaders insisted 
would be so good for us have had some rather nasty side effects. It 
turns out that they didn't tell us that the "global economy" would mean 
that middle class American workers would eventually have to directly 
compete for jobs with people on the other side of the world where there 
is no minimum wage and very few regulations. The big global corporations 
have greatly benefited by exploiting third world labor pools over the 
last several decades, but middle class American workers have 
increasingly found things to be very tough.

Here are the statistics to prove it:

•    83 percent of all U.S. stocks are in the hands of 1 percent of the 
•    61 percent of Americans "always or usually" live paycheck to 
paycheck, which was up from 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007.
•    66 percent of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the 
top 1% of all Americans.
•    36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to 
retirement savings.
•    A staggering 43 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved 
up for retirement.
•    24 percent of American workers say that they have postponed their 
planned retirement age in the past year.
•    Over 1.4 million Americans filed for personal bankruptcy in 2009, 
which represented a 32 percent increase over 2008.
•    Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough 
additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
•    For the first time in U.S. history, banks own a greater share of 
residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual 
Americans put together.
•    In 1950, the ratio of the average executive's paycheck to the 
average worker's paycheck was about 30 to 1. Since the year 2000, that 
ratio has exploded to between 300 to 500 to one.
•    As of 2007, the bottom 80 percent of American households held about 
7% of the liquid financial assets.
•    The bottom 50 percent of income earners in the United States now 
collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
•    Average Wall Street bonuses for 2009 were up 17 percent when 
compared with 2008.
•    In the United States, the average federal worker now earns 60% MORE 
than the average worker in the private sector.
•    The top 1 percent of U.S. households own nearly twice as much of 
America's corporate wealth as they did just 15 years ago.
•    In America today, the average time needed to find a job has risen 
to a record 35.2 weeks.
•    More than 40 percent of Americans who actually are employed are now 
working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
•    or the first time in U.S. history, more than 40 million Americans 
are on food stamps, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture projects that 
number will go up to 43 million Americans in 2011.
•    This is what American workers now must compete against: in China a 
garment worker makes approximately 86 cents an hour and in Cambodia a 
garment worker makes approximately 22 cents an hour.
•    Approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are 
living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.
•    Despite the financial crisis, the number of millionaires in the 
United States rose a whopping 16 percent to 7.8 million in 2009.
•    The top 10 percent of Americans now earn around 50 percent of our 
national income.

Giant Sucking Sound

The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how 
hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people 
who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an 
hour on the other side of the world. After all, what corporation in 
their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus 
benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. 
Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the 
big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, 
the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence 
as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new "global" labor pool.

What do most Americans have to offer in the marketplace other than their 
labor? Not much. The truth is that most Americans are absolutely 
dependent on someone else giving them a job. But today, U.S. workers are 
"less attractive" than ever. Compared to the rest of the world, American 
workers are extremely expensive, and the government keeps passing more 
rules and regulations seemingly on a monthly basis that makes it even 
more difficult to conduct business in the United States.

So corporations are moving operations out of the U.S. at breathtaking 
speed. Since the U.S. government does not penalize them for doing so, 
there really is no incentive for them to stay.

What has developed is a situation where the people at the top are doing 
quite well, while most Americans are finding it increasingly difficult 
to make it. There are now about six unemployed Americans for every new 
job opening in the United States, and the number of "chronically 
unemployed" is absolutely soaring. There simply are not nearly enough 
jobs for everyone.

Many of those who are able to get jobs are finding that they are making 
less money than they used to. In fact, an increasingly large percentage 
of Americans are working at low wage retail and service jobs.

But you can't raise a family on what you make flipping burgers at 
McDonald's or on what you bring in from greeting customers down at the 
local Wal-Mart.

The truth is that the middle class in America is dying -- and once it is 
gone it will be incredibly difficult to rebuild.
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