Tag Archives: middle class jobs

Ignoring the Issues That Matter, Part 2

What are the most important challenges and issues facing America—and why do politicians and pundits ignore them? We  concludes our review this vital topic.

Consistently, the most important challenges facing the American people are covered inadequately  by most media sources. Yesterday, we examined inaccurate coverage of national defense. Today’s report looks at Social Security, Medicare, health care, education, and the problems facing the middle class. 

SOCIAL SECURITY AND MEDICARE. Social Security and Medicare are frequently and mistakenly called “entitlements,” lumping them in with a variety of assistance programs.  That is incorrect.  Working Americans pay for these benefits throughout their working lives, and depend on them when they reach their senior years. But all those dollars taken from paychecks are not put into an account with the workers name on them.  They are simply mingled with all other government income. And, both programs are going broke.

A Time Money report reports: “How worried should you be over Social Security’s future? According to the most recent Annual Report of the Board of the Social Security Trustees…After 2019, Treasury will start spending down the fund; its reserves are estimated to be depleted by 2035.”

Much the same can be said about Medicare. Modern Health Care reports that  “The Medicare trust fund will be insolvent by 2028, according to the 2016 Medicare trustees’ report released [in 2016].”

The fiscal health of both of those programs are vital, but far too many politicians are frightened of doing anything to remedy the problem.

MIDDLE CLASS DESPERATION. As the New York Analysis of Policy and Government recently reported, middle income Americans are losing ground. In December, 2015, Pew Social Trends reported “…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.” Pew Social Trends also reported that “From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally.”

THE HEALTH CARE CRISIS. America’s health care system was demonstrably superior to those of other nations, but it did have flaws. Obamacare, advertised as a means to address those flaws, actually made matters worse. Examples:

  1. Lost plans. Sen. Ben Sasse released a report about Obamacare’s effects on competition among insurers, concluding that outcomes have worsened for most Americans, in terms of choice of insurers and plans. Over the past year, the number of insurers offering plans in exchanges has dropped by nearly 6%.Many states have lost more than 80% of their insurers: Alabama went from 23 to 3, Arkansas went from 24 to 4, and Wyoming from 21 to 1, just to name a few. Only New York did not lose over half of its insurers, going from 28 to 15 insurers, a 46% decline.
  2. Higher premiums. report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research & Educational Trust found that, since 2008, average employer family premiums have climbed a total of $4,865. From 2015 to 2016 the most popular exchange family plan, Family Silver, saw a 10% average increase in its premiums. In some states, premiums rose by nearly 40%.In 2015 the average annual family premium was $17,545 per year, and the average premium for a single policy was $6,251. Young men were particularly hard-hit. Average premiums rose by 49% from 2013 to 2014, the year Obamacare was supposed to go into effect.
  3. Higher deductibles. The New York Times, long a cheerleader for Obamacare, reported that many people can’t afford to use the health insurance that they have purchased because of the deductibles .New York Times reporter Robert Pear wrote that the median deductible in Miami was $5,000 in 2015. It was $5,500 in Jackson, Miss., and $4,000 in Phoenix. One Chicago family of four paid $1,200 monthly for coverage yet had an annual deductible of $12,700.
  4. High costs. The Office of the Actuary of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services has projected that Obamacare will result in an additional $274 billion in administrative costs alone over the period of 2014 through 2022.

Obamacare is collapsing in a whirlpool of skyrocketing premium costs, vanishing choices, and deductibles so high as to make the coverage more an illusion than a reality.

EDUCATION. Despite spending more pupil than just about every other nation, America’s students have fallen behind their international peers. U.S. employers find that far too many are ill-prepared for the job market. Their lack of knowledge in the basics of science, math, American history and civics bode ill for the future.  The nation stands to lose much if not all of its leadership in technology, economy, and the very essence of its being within just a few short years.  Yet there is little movement to address this fundamental threat to the nations’ future.

There are solutions

None of these issues are insolvable.  In fact, some are readily correctable.

  • The nation’s electrical grid can be protected for less than $10 billion.
  • President Reagan faced a similar defense challenge when he took office. His increased spending on national defense actually discouraged America’s main adversary at the time, the Soviet Union, and commenced several decades of relative peace and prosperity between superpowers. The same can be done again.
  • The policies that have slashed middle class jobs, including favorable treatment for China, tax policies that encouraged corporations to take jobs overseas, and Obamacare policies that actually reward companies for replacing full time jobs with part-time positions are solvable through legislation.
  • Federal spending on anti-poverty programs that have failed to reduce poverty could be redirected to Social Security and Medicare.
  • The authority to determine school curriculum can be removed from the self-interested government bureaucrats, teachers’ unions, and the educational hierarchy and put back to where it belongs—in the hands of parents, organized into appropriate formats.

Ignoring the Issues That Matter

What are the most important challenges and issues facing America—and why do politicians and pundits ignore them? The New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews this vital topic in this two-part review.

The nation needs to distinguish between issues that count, and those of far lesser importance. Inevitably, this will produce rage in advocates of those causes deemed comparatively inconsequential.

The United States faces numerous challenges. Many of the fundamental underpinnings of America’s economy, national security, health, preparation for future generations, and even the very existence of the country’s cultural and ideological underpinnings are threatened as never before.

During recent years, The U.S. endured an armed force weakened by years of disinvestment, wishful thinking replaced blunt realism in foreign affairs, an attempt to improve the nation’s health insurance system failed, the middle class was deeply wounded, public education deteriorated, and the population became more divided than at any time since the Civil War.

Serious attempts to address any of these crises are substantially hampered by the national debt of about $20 trillion, (half of which was accumulated in just the past eight years) the influence of special interests which ignore the harm they have wrought, and a determined effort by many educational, media and political figures to, as Barack Obama promised, “fundamentally change” America.

The former president was never seriously questioned as to what he sought to change America into.  Those agreeing with his political views fail to explain how the government-dominated economic system he sought to bring about, and in the case of health care, actually did establish, would succeed in the U.S. after failing in almost every other nation in which it has been tried.  Countries as diverse as the former Soviet Union and modern-day Venezuela have tried and failed.  Some point to Europe, but the nations of that continent essentially established their government-heavy economic systems by relying on Washington to take over most of their defense spending. Even China, ostensibly a Communist regime, employs a form of capitalism, and, not incidentally, relies heavily on the American consumer to keep its economy moving.

As profound and existential threats to America remain unaddressed, much of our national conversation pretends they don’t exist and focuses instead on issues of, at best, secondary importance—or no importance at all. Much of the blame for the failure to successfully confront, or even acknowledge, the nation’s real challenges falls on the traditional media. In its fevered attempt to assist progressive candidates, America’s premiere news sources have chosen to gloss over the extraordinary problems that plague the nation.

These are the under-emphasized issues that should be the centerpiece of national attention:

NATIONAL SECURITY AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS. The national discussion about foreign affairs and defense planning has borne little relation to reality, probably because the actual facts are sufficiently distressing to make pundits and politicians alike worry that an honest narrative, and an accurate description of the costs that need to be afforded to ensure America’s safety, are sufficiently unpleasant that audiences and constituents alike would turn away.

Bluntly: Russia, China, and Iran constitute a singular and unified threat against the west.  Their geographical size and population make them the largest foe the United States has ever encountered. Russia, for the first time in history, has a greater nuclear arsenal than the U.S. China will soon have a larger navy. As a unit, they are America’s equal in technology, conventional and strategic military strength, and industrial capacity.

Their belligerent goals are manifestly clear through their actions in Ukraine, the South China Sea, the Middle East, and their dramatic armaments buildup. As America slashed its defense budget, these nations hiked theirs.  Washington, over the past eight years, gave peace a chance; it didn’t work.

Rather than confront the facts and take the necessary steps to protect the nation, politicians see more benefit on spending for more popular domestic programs. Reporters and analysts allow that irresponsibility to continue, citing irrelevant statistics such as comparisons of how much larger Washington’s budget is than Moscow, China, and Tehran.  But that comparison is inaccurate. Those axis powers don’t have to worry about paying a profit to private companies to the extent the U.S. does, nor do they disclose all their spending, or include many personnel costs. Since they constitute a contiguous land mass, they also don’t have to worry about extensive lines of supply, as the Pentagon does.

A related issue:  America’s electrical grid is very vulnerable to attack by an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that could be triggered by a single well-placed nuclear blast, (North Korea has implied its ability and willingness to do this) or even a naturally occurring solar event, such as that which occurred in the 1850’s.

The Report concludes tomorrow with a look at Social Security, Medicare, Public Education, and Healthcare.

What Destroyed America’s Middle Class Part 2

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government concludes its review of the policies and trends that have severely harmed America’s middle class

A substantial portion of the downturn in the middle class has been the loss of steady, well-paying jobs in the manufacturing sector.

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing “Over 63,000 factories have closed since 2001, and 5.1 million manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2000. President Bill Clinton dramatic alteration in trade relations with China bears a great deal of responsibility for the manufacturing employment exodus. His “U.S.-China Relations Act of 2000” granted permanent normal trade relations with China…It is reasonable to ask why Clinton advocated a measure that clearly would harm industrial workers.”

Michael Bargo, Jr., writing in the American Thinker  believes the problem began early in the Clinton presidency, on May 28, 1993, he issued Executive Order 12850, which “illegally shifted the decision-making role [about China’s trade status] to the Secretary of State… Clinton’s Executive Order was issued at a time when the U.S.-China trade deficit was only $18 billion a year. In 2015 the deficit was $367 billion.”

Bargo provides a suggested motive for the odd move: “just as the Clinton Foundation has been linked to relationships Hillary had to her speech payers and donors, Bill Clinton’s decision to send jobs to China by permanently controlling its MFN status has been linked to campaign donations. Boeing Company wanted the EO. Boeing was the parent company of the Loral Corporation, which donated $100,000 to the Democratic National Committee in June, 1994, according to a Washington Post report at the time. A nice reward to Clinton for his MFN status change. The Loral Corporation is a major developer of missile flight control software and at the time they wanted to launch satellites from China. Boeing also owned McDonnell-Douglas which in 1994 made an agreement with China to open a parts factory in Beijing. If this all seems oddly similar to the deals Hillary made with foundation campaign donors, well, that’s because it is.”

There is some slight cause for optimism, though.  AP  reported in May that American industry expanded production last month at the fastest pace in more than three years. President Trump’s emphasis on U.S. manufacturing, and his rejection of extremist environmental policies, particularly regarding coal, are bright spots.

Another factor detrimentally affecting the middle class is America’s high corporate tax rate, which has chased jobs offshore. The Daily Signal  notes that “The U.S. corporate tax rate is the highest in the developed world—by a long shot. At 39.1 percent (35 percent federal rate plus the average of state rates), it remains substantially higher than the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development average of 25 percent. Combined with the ‘worldwide” tax system’ employed by the U.S. (where companies’ overseas income is taxed when they return it to this country) the excessively high corporate tax rate poses serious problems for the American economy.”

The final nail in the middle class coffin came courtesy of Obamacare.

Alexander Hendrie, writing for The Hill explained that “ObamaCare imposed a long list of taxes that directly hit middle class families. Further, the ACA legislation increased medical costs overall for middle class Americans.  It also harmed middle class-owned businesses. “the 3.8 percent net investment income tax on capital gains and dividends…hits many small businesses organized as pass-through entities that file as individuals, increasing their top federal rate to almost 45 percent.”

Zero Hedge  reports that “Per the Wall Street Journal, since 2007 middle class families have been forced to increase the share of their overall spending on healthcare by nearly 25% while cutting back massively on other necessities to cover the difference.”

This month, The Wall Street Journal reported that “Thanks to the ACA, hiring the 50th full-time employee effectively costs another $70,000 a year on top of the normal salary and benefits. Many business owners have described how this penalty prevents them from hiring and has caused them to reduce work hours to below the full-time threshold…Many businesses, when they do not offer coverage, keep their payrolls just below 50 full-time employees and thereby narrowly escape the ACA’s penalty…. the businesses employing just fewer than 50 often said the ACA caused them to hire less and cut hours below the full-time threshold. The penalty caused payrolls to shrink or prevented them from growing. Nationwide, we estimate the ACA-inspired practice of keeping payrolls below 50 has cost roughly 250,000 jobs. This does not count jobs lost when businesses close … or shrink because of other ACA incentives.”

What Destroyed America’s Middle Class

The New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews, in two parts, the policies and trends that have severely harmed America’s middle class

At first glance, the U.S. economy seems to be doing quite well. The June report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  indicated that America’s businesses added 222,000 jobs last month, a four month high. In May, the unemployment rate reached a phenomenal 16 year low. Another encouraging sign, though a small one: The job participation rate ticked slightly upwards as well. Those who had left the labor force entirely jumped back in greater numbers than at any time since 1990.

But dig a bit deeper, and troublesome indicators appear. Average hourly pay growth is anemic, and that backbone of the economy, middle income jobs, remains at seriously depressed levels. This is not the result of any cyclical downturn, or even the lingering effects of the 2007 recession. Rather, it is due to bad policy decisions over the past 18 years, as well as the impact of technology.

Bloomberg News puts in this way:  “A strange thing seems to be happening to the U.S. economy. On surveys, businesspeople and consumers say the future looks bright. But recent economic activity hasn’t appeared very robust…The University of Michigan’s Surveys of Consumers show confidence at the highest levels they’ve been since before the crisis…But again, some hard numbers tell a different story. Retail sales fell in May, and have been relatively lackluster for the entire year. Auto sales are falling as well. Since cars are expensive, long-term purchases, consumers often signal lack of optimism by holding back on the purchase of a new car, choosing instead to drive their old model for a little while longer. So this is another data point that belies rosy consumer confidence numbers. Pending home sales provide a third spot of weakness.”

Middle Class Loses Ground

The reality is, middle income Americans are losing ground. In December, 2015, Pew Social Trends  reported “…middle-income Americans have fallen further behind financially in the new century. In 2014, the median income of these households was 4% less than in 2000. Moreover, because of the housing market crisis and the Great Recession of 2007-09, their median wealth (assets minus debts) fell by 28% from 2001 to 2013.”

In a subsequent report, Pew Social Trends noted that “The American middle class is losing ground in metropolitan areas across the country, affecting communities from Boston to Seattle and from Dallas to Milwaukee. From 2000 to 2014 the share of adults living in middle-income households fell in 203 of the 229 U.S. metropolitan areas examined in a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The decrease in the middle-class share was often substantial, measuring 6 percentage points or more in 53 metropolitan areas, compared with a 4-point drop nationally.”

In a 2011Forbes article, Jenna Goudreau reports:  “Are stable, well-paying middle-class jobs an endangered species? Economists say: Sort of. ‘The idea that one can have a single-earner family, get a good job, keep it for life and have a comfortable living is all but gone,’ says Kevin Hallock, professor of labor economics and director of the Institute for Compensation Studies at Cornell University. ‘Long-term job stability is declining, … Generally, jobs are disappearing where there’s been a technological advance …or a change in the way that organizations function, says Hallock. And not only are old-fashioned assembly line jobs on the decline, several white-collar office positions are also in jeopardy. ‘There has been some long-term decline in middle-income jobs,’ says Harry Holzer, Georgetown University economist and co-author of Where Are All The Good Jobs Going. ‘Specifically, it’s good-paying production and clerical jobs that are disappearing.’ …Because over 20 million people count on clerical work, the vanishing act is a major blow to the middle, but there are other more niche positions that are also on the chopping block. Internet travel sites have essentially erased the need for travel agents, an occupation which declined by 14% and 12,500 jobs in the last five years for which data is available. Similarly, proofreaders—generally highly skilled workers with a four-year college degree—were once vital to publications and communications departments. These positions shriveled by 31%, likely due to advanced software, Holzer says.”

Bipartisan Recognition

The plight of the middle class has been recognized by both those on the right, who agree with President Trump’s drive to protect U.S. manufacturing and stop illegal immigration, and those on the left, who are emphasize the need for ‘living wage’jobs.

In 2016, Common Dreams, a progressive publication, notes: “Our middle-income jobs are disappearing…the evidence shows that living-wage, family-sustaining positions are quickly being replaced by lower-wage and less secure forms of employment. These plentiful low-level jobs have padded the unemployment figures, leaving much of America believing in an overhyped recovery…research is beginning to confirm the permanent nature of middle-income job loss. Based on analysis that one reviewer calls ‘some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years,’a National Bureau of Economic Research study found that national employment levels have fallen in U.S. industries that are vulnerable to import competition, without offsetting job gains in other industries. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that ‘many middle-wage occupations, those with average earnings between $32,000 and $53,000, have collapsed.”

The Report concludes tomorrow.

Economic Statistics Indicate U.S. Financial Crisis

There should be little doubt that the U.S. economy is in significant trouble. Indeed, objective criteria, as well as spokespersons from both sides of the political spectrum, indicate an economy approaching crisis levels. A survey of views illustrates the challenge:

The latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics  reveals that “Real hourly compensation decreased 0.4 percent…”

The Bloomberg news service reports that “One in seven U.S. households has a negative net worth, as student loans and credit cards plunge a diverse group of people—including those with good jobs—into the red…Almost 15 percent of Americans, or 47 million people, live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Then there are the people loaded up with debt. Even people with good jobs can owe so much on credit cards, student loans, or mortgages that, on paper, they’re worth less than zero. About 14 percent of U.S. households fall into this category, with a negative net worth, according to an analysis this month by the New York Federal Reserve. Add up all their possessions—cash, property, retirement accounts—and subtract all their debts, and one in seven Americans ends up in the red. Overall, U.S. households have $12.3 trillion in debt, according to another New York Fedreport, released this week.”

Liberal-oriented truth-out.org  notes that: “…the evidence shows that living-wage, family-sustaining positions are quickly being replaced by lower-wage and less secure forms of employment. These plentiful low-level jobs have padded the unemployment figures, leaving much of America believing in an overhyped recovery… New research is beginning to confirm the permanent nature of middle-income job loss. Based on analysis that one reviewer calls ‘some of the most important work done by economists in the last twenty years,’ a National Bureau of Economic Research study found that national employment levels have fallen in U.S. industries that are vulnerable to import competition, without offsetting job gains in other industries. Even the Wall Street Journal admits that ‘many middle-wage occupations, those with average earnings between $32,000 and $53,000, have collapsed.”

The financial source Profitconfidential  notes that Washington is “hiding” inflationary statistics.

“According to government statistics, inflation was held to just 0.6% during the first seven months of 2015. Unfortunately, that data disregards the most basic items that everyone uses, including food and energy costs… (Alternative non-government measures of inflation tell a completely different story. The Chapwood Index is an alternative inflation indicator that looks at the unadjusted costs and price fluctuation of the top 500 items that Americans spend their money on in the 50 largest cities in the country. (Source: chapwoodindex.com, last accessed September 22, 2015.) The index looks at the fluctuations in the cost of items such as Advil, Starbucks coffee, insurance, gasoline, tolls, fast food restaurants, toothpaste, oil changes, car washes, cable TV and Internet service, cellphone service, dry cleaning, movie tickets, cosmetics, gym memberships, home repairs, piano lessons, laundry detergent, light bulbs, school supplies, parking meters, pet food, and People magazine.For example, in 2014, the [official consumer price index] CPI rose 0.8%. But according to the Chapwood Index, major cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Diego, and Boston saw inflation for the trailing 12 months (through to June of this year) run over 10%.”

Ignoring real inflationary numbers has a dire effect on senior citizens, who have suffered through more years without a cost of living increase in their social security checks than at any other time in living memory.

Republicans have been sharply critical of the President’s economic policies. GOP candidate Donald Trump uses the worrisome economic statistics as a bludgeon against opponent Hillary Clinton, who has pledged to continue the Obama legacy. His web site states:

“… let’s look at what the Obama-Clinton policies have done nationally.Their policies produced 1.2% growth, the weakest so-called recovery since the Great Depression, and a doubling of the national debt.

“There are now 94.3 million Americans outside the labor force. It was 80.5 million when President Obama took office, an increase of nearly 14 million people. Home ownership is at its lowest rate in 51 years…

“Nearly 12 million have been added to the food stamp rolls since President Obama took office. Another nearly 7 million Americans were added to the ranks of those in poverty.

“We have the lowest labor force participation rates in four decades. 58 percent of African-American youth are either outside the labor force or not employed. 1 in 5 American households do not have a single member in the labor force…Meanwhile, American households are earning more than $4,000 less today than they were sixteen years ago.”

While substantial disagreement exists about the remedies that should be applied to America’s broken economy, the reality that a crisis exists is one which has fairly widespread support.

Middle Class Jobs Continue to Lag

Nonfarm payroll employment gains were 160,000 in April according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a drop of 40,000 from the prior three month average. Job gains occurred in professional and business services, health care, and financial activities, while mining employment continued to decline.

The reason for the decline in the U.S. economy and the continuing problem in the American balance of trade can be gleaned from delving into the areas that continue to be the weakest. Manufacturing employment changed little in April (+4,000), after losing 45,000 jobs over the prior 2 months. Mining employment continued to decline in April (-7,000). The industry has lost 191,000 jobs since a recent peak in September 2014. More than three-fourths of the job losses over this period have been in support activities for mining.

Middle income jobs are suffering. A jobs market that is based on health care, retail, and consulting services produces little that can be exported.

While the White House continues to tout an unemployment rate of 5%, the reality is far different.  The number is made artificially low by the declining number of Americans in the workforce (a four decade low) and it fails to reflect that a substantial number of jobs created are low-paying or part time positions that replace full time, lost middle income jobs. Additionally, a worrisome large number of the unemployed, 25.7%, have been unemployed for a prolonged period.

Among the employed, the number working part time for economic reasons, also referred to as involuntary part-time workers, was 6.0 million in April. This measure has shown little movement since November. (Involuntary part-time workers are those who would have preferred full-time employment but were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find full-time work.)

Reuters reports that “Manufacturing’s job problem undercuts hopeful forecasts that U.S. companies would bring significant numbers of jobs back from overseas. That’s simply not happening to a degree sufficient to offset the continuing exodus of work and suggest deeper problems roiling factory floors…The slowdown in oil and gas has radiated deep into the economy and huge cuts by heavy equipment and farm machinery manufacturers are battering thousands of smaller suppliers across the industrial belt….the downturn has spread gloom across the U.S. industrial heartland…many Midwest manufacturers say they are as disillusioned with Washington’s view of the economy as their hourly workers.”

While manufacturing jobs had been declining for several decades, the dramatic downward slide can be traced to President Clinton’s allowing China off the hook from yearly reviews of its policies.

It is deeply frustrating that the current employment crisis in middle income jobs is not just  the temporary result of a cyclical downturn.  It is the direct result of the White House’s tax and environmental policies. Taxes for U.S. corporations are the highest in the developed world, which encourages companies to move their jobs overseas. The Obama Administration’s regulatory tidal wave, especially those designed to destroy the coal industry, have targeted not only a large number of jobs, but also some of the best paying middle income jobs in the economy.

CNS  notes that “Over the course of the 86 full months that President Barack Obama has completed serving in the White House—from February 2009 through March 2016–the U.S. Treasury has collected approximately $18,764,164,000,000 in tax revenues (in non-inflation-adjusted dollars), according to the Monthly Treasury Statements issued during that period…That equals approximately $124,003 for each of the 151,320,000 persons who, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, had either a full- or part-time job during March 2016. During the same 86-month stretch of the Obama presidency, the total debt of the federal government increased from $10,632,005,246,736.97 to $19,264,938,619,643.07, according to the Treasury. That is an increase in the debt of $8,632,933,372,906.10—or approximately $57,051 for each of the 151,320,000 people with jobs as of March.

HotAir reports that there is “visceral disgust” for Obama’s environmental policies in the Appalachian counties… West Virginia…energy costs are expected to go up 40 percent under Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 32 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels. It’s a regulatory nightmare, a job killer, and a policy that Hillary Clinton plans to continue if she’s elected.”

Investors.com believes that Obama’s “policies have made it harder than ever for manufacturers to hire…New Environmental Protection Agency regulations to slash carbon emissions 30% by 2030 will have a devastating effect on factory jobs. A study by the Heritage Foundation found that this regulation by itself would cost each American $7,000 in income while killing 500,000 factory jobs and 45% of all coal-industry jobs. Then there’s the just-released ozone standards, also from the EPA’s job-killing policy shop. A study by NERA Economic Consulting for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) estimated a $140 billion hit to GDP and as many as 1.4 million jobs lost each year. Since Obama took office, thousands of new regulations have gone into effect. In 2012, regulation cost the U.S. economy about $2 trillion, or 12% of GDP. And manufacturers have been hit hardest. The average factory today spends $19,564 per worker to comply with regulations. For small manufacturers, it’s bigger: $34,671 per worker.”

Whatever happened to the middle class?

Whatever happened to America’s Middle Class? Today and tomorrow, the New York Analysis of Policy & Government reviews the most important data and research on this bedrock portion of the U.S. population. 

There is one issue that most Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives actually agree on: America’s middle class is dwindling.  In both numbers as a percent of the population and in income, those at the center of the economy in earnings are becoming an endangered species. A review of several key reports is revealing.

As the New York Analysis of Policy & Government has previously reported, a significant source of middle income employment has been considerably reduced since President Clinton normalized trade relations with Beijing. Combined with America’s corporate tax rates (highest among any of the U.S.’s developed trading partners) and a refusal by both parties to adequately address issues such as the importation of goods manufactured overseas by slave or dramatically underpaid labor and with considerably less regulation than found domestically, the exodus of jobs has been rampant.

While the Obama Administration notes that some jobs have been created to replace those lost during the Great Recession, the reality is that these replacement jobs are largely very-low paying positions, many of them taken by immigrants, legal and illegal.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, William Galston notes that “Over the next decade, the service sector will provide 95% of all the new jobs.  Manufacturing, which shed more than two million jobs between 2004 and 2014, will shrink by an additional 800,000, to only 7% of the workforce.  Of the 15 occupations with the most project job growth, only four ask for a bachelors degree, eight require no formal education credentials; nine offer median annual wages under $30,000…For middle income families…[net wealth has stagnated] from $96,000 in 1983, $98,000 in 2013…”

The latest report to join the ever-increasing number of worrisome analyses about the middle class comes from the Pew Research CenterRakesh Kochhar and Richard Fry note that:

“Americans in middle-income households have lost significant ground since 1970, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of government data. The middle class has long been the country’s economic majority, but our new analysis finds that’s no longer true. Meanwhile, the middle class has fallen further behind upper-income households financially, which now hold a larger share of aggregate household income than ever before in the 44-year period examined.”

Pew summarizes its report in five points:

1.Middle-income Americans are no longer the nation’s economic majority. In early 2015, there were 120.8 million adults in middle-income households, matched in number by the 121.3 million adults who were in lower- and upper-income households combined. This is the culmination of a long slide in which the share of adults in middle-income households has fallen from 61% in 1971 to 50% in 2015.

  1. The decline in the middle represents both economic progress and polarization. The shift shows progress in the sense that a larger share of Americans now live in upper-income households. Fully 21% of American adults in 2015 were upper income, compared with 14% in 1971, a 7-percentage-point increase. The increase in the share of upper-income adults was greater than the change in the opposite direction. Some 29% of U.S. adults were low income in 2015, compared with 25% in 1971. But the data also show increasing economic polarization: As the distribution of adults thins in the middle, it is bulking up most at the extreme ends of the income distribution, the lowest and highest tiers.
  2. 3. Over the long haul, America’s middle-income households have seen their income grow.From 1970 to 2014, these households’ median income increased from $54,682 to $73,392 (in 2014 dollars), a gain of 34%. Lower-income household incomes have grown, too, but not as much: 28% over the same 44-year period. Upper-income household incomes have grown most, up 47% over this period. However, the nation’s economic progress over the past several decades masks financial setbacks since 2000.Because of the recession in 2001 and the Great Recession of 2007-09, overall household incomes fell from 2000 to 2014. The greatest loss was felt by lower-income households, whose median income fell 9% over this period; the median for middle-income households fell 4%, and that for upper-income households fell 3%.
  3. The shareof U.S. aggregate household income held by middle-income households has plunged,from 62% in 1970 to 43% in 2014. Meanwhile, the share held by upper-income households increased from 29% to 49%. This shift is driven both by the growing size of the upper-income tier and more rapid gains in income at the top. There is also a growing disparity in the median wealth (assets minus debts) of these income tiers. Upper-income families, who had three times as much wealth as middle-income families in 1983, more than doubled the wealth gap to seven times as much in 2013.
  4. Over the years, certaindemographic groups have fared better than others in moving up the economic ladder. Since 1971, older Americans (ages 65 and older) and African Americans have made notable progressin moving up the income tiers. But overall, both groups are still overrepresented in the lower-income tier. Married adults also made significant progress over this 44-year period, and women overall made greater economic gains than men.

“Americans without a college degree stand out as experiencing a substantial loss in economic status since 1971, as do young adults ages 18 to 29. Hispanics overall are also more likely to be in lower-income households than in 1971, a change driven by the increasing share of immigrants in the Hispanic population in the past four decades.”