Do you think that 2011 will be a good year for America's middle class? Well, you might not be so optimistic after you read the 30 statistics posted below. The truth is that 2011 is going to be another crappy year for America's middle class, and there is not a whole lot that you or I can do about it. Sadly, what we are facing as a nation is not just a short-term economic downturn. Rather, there are some very serious long-term economic trends that are absolutely ripping apart the U.S. middle class. For example, did you know that even though our population has been growing at a brisk pace we have lost about ten percent of our middle class jobs over the past decade? The vast majority of jobs that have been created have been low paying service jobs. We now have hordes of highly educated young people that are waiting tables and that are welcoming customers to Wal-Mart. Without good paying jobs there is no middle class, but today American corporations are actually creating more jobs overseas than they are inside the United States. This has helped pad the profits of the big corporate fatcats, but it has been devastating for middle class communities across the United States. Every time a factory gets closed down in America and gets set up in some other country instead, it means that the U.S. middle class is shrinking just a little bit more. The new "global economy" has been good for the bottom line of the largest U.S. corporations, it has been great for countries like China and India, but it is absolutely wiping out the U.S. middle class.
If you still have a good paying middle class job you should be very thankful. The total number of those jobs is rapidly decreasing. Millions of those that have lost their jobs over the last several years have been forced to take lower paying jobs or even part-time jobs in an attempt to fill the void. Millions of others have not been able to find a job at all.
Meanwhile, the price of everything is going up. Have you been to the supermarket lately? The price of food is going up substantially. Many analysts are already talking about $5 a gallon gasoline in 2010. Utility bills are going through the roof. Health care premiums are soaring. Many state and local governments are seriously hiking up taxes and fees.
Tens of millions of American families are going to be forced to make what they do have stretch even farther in 2011. But for many American families the breaking point has already been reached. An all-time record number of Americans is on food stamps. An all-time record number of Americans is living below the poverty line. Personal bankruptcies and mortgage defaults continue to hover around record levels.
The U.S. economy is shaking like a leaf, and the people that are feeling it the most are the hard working American families that just want to make an honest living, pay the mortgage and feed their families.
Unfortunately, 2011 isn't going to be any easier for those families. As a nation we continue to pursue the exact same economic policies that have allowed these horrible long-term economic trends to develop. Things are not going to change until our country starts moving in a fundamentally different direction.
The following are 30 reasons why 2011 is going to be another crappy year for America's middle class....
#1 We are bleeding middle class jobs at a pace that is staggering. Since the year 2000, the United States has lost 10% of its middle class jobs. In the year 2000 there were about 72 million middle class jobs in the United States but today there are only about 65 million middle class jobs.
#2 In particular, the United States is absolutely hemorrhaging manufacturing jobs. Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.
#3 The decline of manufacturing in America has only accelerated over the past decade. The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.
#4 Deindustrialization is creating ghost towns in some areas of the United States. Even some of America's biggest cities are now only a shadow of what they used to be. Since 1950, the population of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has declined by more than 50 percent. In Dayton, Ohio 18.9 percent of all houses now stand empty.
#5 We have literally seen tens of thousands of American factories close down permanently over the past decade. Since 2001, over 42,000 U.S. factorieshave closed down for good.
#6 U.S. companies now create more jobs overseas than they do in the United States. Over the past year, American companies have created 1.4 million jobsoverseas but less than a million jobs here at home.
#7 When Americans lose their jobs these days they typically end up having to take new jobs that do not pay as much. According to one recent study, the majority of unemployed Americans that have been able to find new jobs during this economic downturn have been forced to accept a cut in pay.
#8 The overwhelming majority of the jobs that the U.S. economy is creating now are low paying jobs. In fact, more than 40% of Americans who actually are employed are now working in service jobs, which are often very low paying.
#9 The number of long-term unemployed continues to skyrocket in this country. As 2007 began, there were just over 1 million Americans that had been unemployed for half a year or longer. Today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.
#10 For those who are out of work, the wait can be excruciating. It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.
#11 Millions of Americans have become extremely depressed as they have discovered that they simply cannot find any work at all. In August 2009, only 10 percent of the unemployed had been out of work for 2 years or longer. Today that number is up to 35 percent.
#12 Meanwhile, the gap between the wealthy and the poor continues to grow. According to one recent report, the wealthiest one percent of all U.S. households have an average of approximately $14 million in assets, while the average U.S. household has assets that total about $62,000.
#13 In fact, those at the very top of the income scale seem to be doing better than ever. Between 1950 and 1989, the top 1% usually earned around 7 or 8 percent of all national income. Today that figure is getting very close to 20 percent.
#14 Some of the income inequality statistics are almost too outrageous to believe. For example, the top 20 percent of U.S. working families take homeapproximately 47 percent of all income and earn about 10 times the amount that low-income working families bring in.
#15 Sadly, most American families are now living week to week. According to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.
#16 The U.S. real estate market continues to stagnate. During the third quarter of 2010, 67 percent of all mortgages in Nevada were "underwater", 49 percent of all mortgages in Arizona were "underwater" and 46 percent of all mortgages in Florida were "underwater". So what happens if home prices go down even more?
#17 For millions upon millions of middle class families, their number one financial asset is their house. Unfortunately, many analysts are now projecting that U.S. housing prices will fall much lower than they are now. For example, Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital says that home prices in the United States are going to decline at least 20 percent and possibly even more.
#18 But even though home prices have declined significantly, the truth is that they are still too high for most American families. Only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.
#19 Most American families have found that their economic situations have significantly deteriorated over the last several years. In fact, 55 percent of the U.S. labor force has “suffered a spell of unemployment, a cut in pay, a reduction in hours or have become involuntary part-time workers” since December 2007.
#20 As tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by, saving for retirement has become an afterthought. Today, 36 percent of Americans say that they don't contribute anything to retirement savings.
#21 The truth is that incomes all across America are going down. In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States.
#22 So is anyone doing better? Well, one group is. In 2009, the only group that saw their household incomes increase was those making $180,000 or more.
#23 Most Americans are scratching and clawing and doing whatever they can to make a living these days. Half of all American workers now earn $505 or lessper week.
#24 Millions of Americans have been forced to take part-time jobs because that is all that they could get. The number of Americans working part-time jobs "for economic reasons" is now the highest it has been in at least five decades.
#25 Some of the people that have been hit the hardest by all this have been children. According to one recent study, approximately 21 percent of all children in the United States are living below the poverty line in 2010 - the highest rate in 20 years.
#26 If all of the above was not bad enough, now we are not even living as long. According to one recent report, the United States has dropped to 49th placein the world in overall life expectancy.
#27 The sad truth is that our country is in decline and it is getting poorer. Ten years ago, the United States was ranked number one in average wealth per adult. In 2010, the United States has fallen to seventh.
#28 Our young people are supposed to be the hope of the future, but most of them are up to their eyeballs in student loan debt. Americans now owe more than $875 billion on student loans, which is more than the total amount that Americans owe on their credit cards.
#29 Life is getting harder and harder for those on the low end of the income scale. The bottom 40 percent of income earners in the United States now collectively own less than 1 percent of the nation’s wealth.
#30 On top of everything else, the price of oil is skyrocketing again. John Hofmeister, the former president of Shell Oil, believes that American consumers could be shelling out 5 dollars for a gallon of gas by 2012. If that actually happens, it is going to absolutely devastate millions of middle class American families.
So are you depressed yet?
Well, don't be. There is a whole lot more to life than just money.
Times are hard and they are going to get harder, but that doesn't mean that you can't thrive in the middle of all this. Hopefully we can all take this as a wake up call. We all need to work harder, become less wasteful, become more independent and stop living as if the good times are going to last forever.
So what do you think 2011 is going to hold for the U.S. economy? Please feel free to leave a comment with your opinion below....