The Social Security Administration has released their National Wage Index. This is a report they publish that breaks down the reported annual income (before taxes) of the American people. The results are troubling.
According to the report, fifty-one percent of American workers make less than $30,000 a year. This breaks out to around $2,500 a month before taxes.
The poverty line for a family of four is $24,250 dollars a year according to the federal government.
Wages are going down and yet inflation persists. We are all becoming participants in a recipe for disaster and something needs to be done about it.
However, In order to defeat a problem, one must first understand the cause. The cause for this particular problem is the United States congress and its Republican majority.
These are the reasons why.
They Created A Race To The Bottom
According to the Economic Policy Institute,
“When job opportunities are as weak as they have been in the current recovery, it is not just job seekers who suffer; workers with jobs see their paycheck and benefits falter. That there are far more jobless workers than available jobs means employers can get and retain workers without offering significant wage increases.”
In laymen’s terms, this means that the emphasis since 2008 has been on job creation, not on job improvement. The dramatic increase in available workers that occurred during the Great Recession meant that employers did not have to offer the same competitive salaries, hours, and benefits that they once did.
The Economic Policy Institute believes that congress has been so determined to create more jobs that they have not been paying attention to the quality of those jobs and now the consequences of that decision are becoming plain.
They Continue To Choose Corporate Interests Over Individual Interests
Once again the Economic Policy Institute has the best word on this subject,
“One key item on this list concerns economic globalization, which is deeply influenced by American policy decisions. For most of the three decades leading up to the Great Recession, trade agreements reliably harmonized protections for corporate interests up to the highest standard, but generally provided no protection against a race to the bottom on labor standards.”
Once again this congress has placed the emphasis in the wrong place. They have been working so hard to guarantee the economic stability of the big companies that they have neglected the rights and interests of the individual worker.
This, combined with their weakening of American unions, means that this country’s current economic path is rocketing it toward the same despicable labor practices that those very unions were created to defend against.
They Have Sided With The One Percent
This final quote from the Economic Policy Institute is perhaps the most troubling,
“Why have salaries of those in the top 1 percent increased so much faster than those of other high-wage earners (say, those in the top 10 percent), let alone those of the middle class? There are two key reasons: the superlative growth of compensation of CEOs and other top managers, and excessive salaries in the expanding financial sector.”
While the rest of the nation’s salaries have plummeted, those of the financial sector have been thriving. The great injustice of it all is that the financial sector is where this whole mess came from in the first place.
This Republican congress has refused to challenge the status quo and create a new system that rewards American workers instead of American corporations.
Policy is more important in economics than most people realize and until congress starts caring about what happens to the individual these depressing wage reductions will continue to play out.
Continue Reading: This Pizza Shop Is Taking On Poverty One Slice At A Time
Banner Image Credit: Jamelle Bouie on Flickr