Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Results of Middle Class Destruction

I would like to start today by pointing out an error I made yesterday. I assumed that since March was not finished with us, that the ADP jobs report for March would not be issued until next Wednesday. I guess ADP figures the last few days of the month don't matter so long as they get a report out two days prior to the BLS report for the overall economy issued on the first Friday of the new month.

From Reuters on today's (Wednesday, March 30) ADP report:

(Reuters) - Private employers added 201,000 jobs in March, while February's figure was revised down slightly, a report by a payrolls processor showed on Wednesday.

The data was largely in line with expectations. Economists surveyed by Reuters had forecast the ADP Employer Services report would show a gain of 203,000 jobs. The report is jointly developed with Macroeconomic Advisers LLC.

February's figure was revised down to 208,000 from 217,000.

"Basically the number was very much in line with expectations and shows that the labor recovery continues at a reasonable pace," said David Katz, chief investment officer at Matrix Asset Advisors in New York.
Of course, Mr Katz is not accounting for the loss of jobs in the public sector. And there have been job losses in the public sector this past month.

But there have been a few articles I've seen during my daily surfing of the toobz, from today and earlier, that tell us a bit more about the state of the economy than the ADP report and the words of Mr Katz can tell us.

First up is this article from today's Hartford Courant on New London, CT schools that are now providing free suppers (to go with free breakfasts and lunches) for students from low income families. From the article:
While many schools across Connecticut provide free or reduced lunch and breakfast to students from low-income homes, New London was the first to provide supper, too. Bridgeport recently launched a similar program, and Norwich is considering it.

In New London, where 85 percent of students live in poverty and 60 percent come from homes with single parents — some working multiple jobs — the free supper has already proven popular. Since it started a month ago, the number of diners has doubled to as many as 120 on some days.


Besides Connecticut, the federally funded program is offered in 11 other states and Washington, D.C. It is aimed at schools where at last 50 percent of students qualify for free or reduced lunch programs. In Connecticut, 33 school districts have schools fitting that description.
My bold. Note that these are children where parents are working - and still not making enough to be considered above the poverty line. From the 2011 HHS guidelines, for poverty, a family of three (a single mother and two children), the poverty line is $18.5k per annum. This works out to $8.90 per hour for a 40 hour week, 52 week year. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (Connecticut's minimum wage is $8.25) for the math challenged. Since New London, CT is also the home of the Naval Submarine Base New London, I wonder if there are any active duty families affected here?

The next story that caught my eye this morning was this from the NY Times giving up more workers to a two tier wage system:
ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. — The United Automobile Workers union might allow carmakers to put more new workers on a lower wage scale to create more jobs and reopen idled plants, a U.A.W. official said Tuesday.

The official, Joe Ashton, a vice president in charge of the U.A.W.’s dealings with General Motors, said creating jobs was a priority for the union entering this fall’s negotiations with the three Detroit carmakers.
I guess this fits the "good news/bad news" world. More jobs = good but lower paying jobs = bad (bad because it is that much more difficult for the average worker to stay even, much less get ahead.) McClatchy last week had this article that pointed out why the budget protests were about more than just the short term costs to an individual state:
Working people have been watching their paychecks stagnate or shrink since the 1980s. Health care costs have been rising steadily. Jobs have been migrating overseas. The dream of upward mobility has slipped from many people's grasp. The rules seem to be changing.


For decades after World War II, middle class incomes rose rapidly, and the gap between rich and poor narrowed.

"The United States witnessed a period of strong and sustained economic growth, creating a rising tide that lifted all boats and ushering in an era of unprecedented prosperity," said a report from the Economic Mobility Project at the Pew Charitable Trust.


"There is not equality of opportunity in the way we as a nation imagine there is," said Currier. "The American dream is struggling."

It has been since the mid-to-late 1970s. One key may have been the decline of unions in the private sector, which previously had helped increase wages not only for members, but for workers in some non-union businesses, by setting a benchmark.
So what do we see out of the elected (and appointed) officials in Washington? Well there's the search for "bad guys" (from the NY Times) to blame:
Nearly a week after bipartisan talks broke down, no further negotiations are scheduled as the April 8 cutoff for federal spending approaches. While some back-channel communications continued on Monday, each side sought to publicly portray the other as intransigent.

Both parties remain uncertain about which of them would bear the brunt of public anger if Congress cannot agree on financing federal operations for the final half of this fiscal year and government agencies shut down or drastically scale back the services they can provide.
Or there's the ideology based components that have nothing to do with the budget (also from the NY Times) but make for talking points:
On Tuesday evening, Senator Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chamber’s No. 3 Democrat, said on MSNBC that the Senate would reject all riders concerning Planned Parenthood and the E.P.A.

For many Republicans, particularly freshmen who ran on small-government platforms, choking off financing for the health care overhaul is a top priority. Nine riders on that issue passed in the House Republican spending plan that died in the Senate, in addition to a stand-alone bill to repeal the entire act, which also failed in the Senate.

Equally high on the list, however, may be the goal of unraveling the vast array of environmental regulations promulgated by the E.P.A. and other government agencies, which Republicans insist overburdens businesses, particularly the ones that take on carbon emissions.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental activist group, counted 19 amendments that deal with air, water or land regulations. “These riders take aim at a broad range of environmental protections,” said David Goldston, the group’s director of government affairs.
I guess it is a Republican value to consider poisoning the earth, air, and sea as something to be encouraged although I am old enough to remember when it was otherwise.

Maybe that's the overall point, if the lack of a decent job doesn't kill folks, just let businesses go back to poisoning each and everyone. Of course, the folks who think this way, must forget, they have to breathe the same air and live in the same poisoned environment as the rest of us - and the gated community is absolutely no help. But not to worry, the Securitization Industry (aka Banksters lobby) has set up a lobby shop inside the beltway. Sorry, I have no snark left for that one so you're on your own.

And because I can:

No comments:

Post a Comment