Working Class Americans Worse off Today than in 1980
Despite the fact that worker productivity has soared over the last 30 years, the average working class American has seen their real earnings decrease since 1980, the Huffington Post reports.
Forty-year-old male high school graduates were the standard by which the Employment Policy Research Network, a collective of labor, management, economics, employment and sociology researchers from 50 different universities, measured well-being in 1980 and in 2009.
What the researchers discovered is that while middle class Americans, despite their greatly increased productivity, are worse off today then they were in 1980 while corporate profits and the income of the wealthiest Americans have soared.
As a result, the typical middle-aged man can no longer assume that his children will do as well or better economically than he did.
The decline of the working class American began sometime in the 1970s, when inflation and other economic challenges spurred employers to cut costs by slashing their workforce and worker pay and benefits, eroding union power, closing factories and outsourcing work overseas, and influencing legislation to benefit corporations at the expense of labor.
The result was less demand for American blue collar workers.
This all coincided with the rise and fall of the credit culture. “As the link between productivity and wages broke down, families and the government turned to borrowing and credit to support living standards,” Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Frank Levy told the Huffington Post. “These options are no longer sustainable.”
Meanwhile, corporate profits continue to soar and the rich keep getting richer at the rest of our expense. Those in the corporate world who most excelled at cutting costs and laying off workers have been richly rewarded, while the working men and women who once formed the backbone of America are pushed to do more work for less compensation, reduced benefits, and the ever-stressful prospect that they’ll be axed in the next round of layoffs or outsourcing.
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