Rising tides don’t lift boats like they used to 

This shouldn’t be news to anyone paying attention.  Another bit of evidence of the increasing irrelevance of  standard economic indicators for the wellbeing of average everyday people.  According to Jon Ortiz, a recent Field Poll shows 

  • “The disconnect between attitudes about personal finances and larger economic conditions runs counter to conventional wisdom.” 
  • “More Californians have been negative than positive about the state’s economy for 13 years in a row.”

The article quoted Andrea Torain, a laboratory supervisor for UC Davis, “The jobs being added aren’t jobs you raise a family on.”

This disconnect has been evident for a while, especially following the popping of the dot.com bubble.  Most of the most watched indicators don’t clearly reflect the impact of rising economic insecurity, particularly those most relevant to middle class and aspiring middle class families. The standard output-job-income-inflation yardsticks don’t reflect factors such as skyhigh higher education costs, diminishing  pension and health benefits, unaffordable day care costs, the proliferation of part time and contingent employment, and so on.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Rising tides don’t lift boats like they used to 

  1. A couple of notes: I think you mean middle income, not middle class. Middle income people are working class people with jobs that allow then to have some small savings, and pay their bills without having to keep daily track of their spending at the end of the month. Middle class people have an income that allows a decent house, a good deal of savings, retirement security etc. The middle class has never made up more than 30% of the population and, at this point, is little more than 20%. Some middle class jobs have disappeared, but it is the solvent working class that has collapsed. The fear among the middle class is that their jobs will disappear too. It’s a reasonable fear, as many of those jobs can be performed by cheaper workers elsewhere, and the Americans are so expensive that, even with extensive on-site management in other countries, it’s still cheaper to move the work. (The animation for The Simpsons has been done in Korea for years, for instance.)

    What’s interesting is that this was intended. Neoliberal economic theories of the 1970s argued for the part where the solvent working class would be wiped out, while middle class jobs would be protected, presumably because people in the Third World couldn’t perform those elite functions. But now it has turned out that (a) people who aren’t white can do those elite jobs and (b) driving most people into permanent insolvency creates new problems of its own.

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