Long before the pandemic, U.S. workers’ productivity and their median pay, which once rose in tandem, went through an acrimonious divorce. Compensation, especially in some of the country’s fastest-growing industries, has stagnated, while the costs of housing, health care, and education decidedly have not. The federal minimum wage, stuck at $7.25 since 2009, is worth 70% of what it was in 1968, and about a third of what it would be had it kept pace with productivity.
How the American Worker Got Fleeced
Over the years, bosses have held down wages, cut benefits, and stomped on employees’ rights. Covid-19 may change that.
Story by Josh Eidelson
Data analysis and graphics by Christopher Cannon
A documentary that investigates incidents of hunger experienced by millions of Americans, and proposed solutions to the problem.
Directors: Kristi Jacobson, Lori Silverbush
Stars: Jeff Bridges, Tom Colicchio, Ken Cook
SNAP is one of the most effective and efficient federal programs, as well as one of the most responsive, providing additional assistance to needy families during economic downturns. It’s also one of the most-needed: 46 million Americans rely on SNAP benefits to buy food each month, according to the USDA. Two-thirds of these benefits go to households with children.
1 in 7 kids in the United States face hunger, and 20 million of those children are in families who rely on the food they get from SNAP.
In less than two decades, the share of income paid out in wages and benefits in the private sector shrank by 5.4 percentage points, a McKinsey Global Institute study found last year, reducing compensation on average by $3,000 a year, adjusted for inflation.
The result is that a job — once the guarantor of income security — no longer reliably plays that role.
“For many working families, wage growth has not been strong enough to allow them to meet their basic needs on their own,” the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston concluded in a report last year.
“Straggling In A Good Economy, And Now Struggling In A Crisis”
1 in 10 Coloradans worry where their next meal will come from. These are people you meet every day- those with low wage jobs, children, seniors on fixed incomes, those with health issues. Surprisingly, the homeless represent only 10% of our food recipients. Nearly half of the food we distribute feeds children.
Less than 4 cents of every dollar for administration. 96 cents of every dollar contributed goes towards food distribution. And every dollar we receive helps provides four meals for our hungry neighbors.
Overall, the richest 0.1 percent of American households own 19.6 percent of the nation’s total wealth, up from 15.9 percent in 2005 and 7.4 percent in 1980. The richest 0.1 percent now have the same combined net worth as the bottom 85 percent.
The wealth trends have been especially hard on younger Americans. The median net worth of Americans under age 35 — who started off substantially poorer on average than older Americans — is 40 percent lower than the net worth of Americans under 35 was in 2004. The net worth of Americans over age 65, by contrast, has risen 9 percent over the same period. The Boomers, in short, are richer than their predecessors, and Millennials and Generation X are poorer than their predecessors.
In an isolation room, the doctors put him on an IV drip, did a chest X-ray and took the swabs.
Now back at work remotely, he faces a mounting array of bills. His patient responsibility, according to his insurer, is now close to $2,000, and he fears there may be more bills to come.
By Elisabeth Rosenthal and Emmarie Huetteman
Ms. Rosenthal is editor in chief of Kaiser Health News, where Ms. Huetteman is a correspondent.
Wall Street’s latest real estate grab has ballooned to roughly $60 billion, representing hundreds of thousands of properties. In some communities, it has fundamentally altered housing ecosystems in ways we’re only now beginning to understand, fueling a housing recovery without a homeowner recovery. “That’s the big downside,” says Daniel Immergluck, a professor of urban studies at Georgia State University. “During one of the greatest recoveries of land value in the history of the country, from 2010 and 2011 at the bottom of the crisis to now, we’ve seen huge gains in property values, especially in suburbs, and instead of that accruing to many moderate-income and middle-income homeowners, many of whom were pushed out of the homeownership market during the crisis, that land value has accrued to these big companies and their shareholders.”
Before 2010, institutional landlords didn’t exist in the single-family-rental market; now there are 25 to 30 of them, according to Amherst Capital, a real estate investment firm. From 2007 to 2011, 4.7 million households lost homes to foreclosure, and a million more to short sale. Private-equity firms developed new ways to secure credit, enabling them to leverage their equity and acquire an astonishing number of homes.
The Great Wall Street Housing Grab
Hundreds of thousands of single-family homes are now in the hands of giant companies — squeezing renters for revenue and putting the American dream even further out of reach.
Francesca Mari, NYTIMES
Utah is pioneering an alternative for its state employees to address soaring prescription drug prices.
The Pharmacy Tourism Program, a part of the Utah Public Employees Health Program (PEHP), allows certain members with high-cost medicines to fill their prescription in Vancouver, Canada, and Tijuana, Mexico, where medication comes at a much lower cost. The initiative even pays for members’ flights.
US milliennials (roughly 22-37 yrs of age) are facing heavy debt and low pay which prevents or delays them from buying homes (or other large purchases) and starting families compared to their parents, are other countries experiencing the same or similar economic issues with this age group? from NoStupidQuestions
“In the UK almost identical situation.
I’m 43 I own my house and pay £600 pcm mortgage.
My colleague is 34 rents a house on the same street. Pays £900 pcm rent.
He’s fucked. Totally fucked.”
“In Finland, not as bad, but trending towards that. Pay is dragging behind the increasing cost of living, because we need to remain competitive in EU internal and global markets, which apparently can only be done with wages. Not by for example, making Finland more friendly to startups and small and medium sized companies, and entrepreneurs.”
The New Red Scare
“The winter round of the presidential race goes to Bernie Sanders, not so much for winning the most votes from Democrats as for coining the key word, the big theme for 2020, which is: billionaires! Not just the billionaires on the ballot and billionaires backstage, it’s billionaire-ism coming to be the argument of this election in a country at odds more and more about money. We’re used to anger, right and left, but suddenly there’s alarm in the air – at MSNBC, the Democrats’ TV network, the bold march of Bernie’s anti-billionaire army reminded Hardball‘s Chris Matthews of the Fall of France to Hitler in 1940. It’s scary, and there’s a pick of scarecrows in this race: the Plutocrat; the Democratic Socialist, and the President.
This was wake-up week among the Democrats nominating a presidential candidate. Some woke up cheering that Bernie Sanders looks like the choice of the people. Some woke up screaming in horror that the rebellion against the Clinton era is real, that their party has been dying for four years, that the end is near. The sound of battle has gone raw, with survival at stake, not just egos.”
Lancaster, Ohio, the home of the Fortune 500 company Anchor Hocking, was once a bustling center of industry and employment. At its peak following World War II, Lancaster’s hometown company was the world’s largest maker of glassware and employed more than 5,000 town residents.
Though Anchor Hocking remains in Lancaster today, it is a shell of its former self, and the once thriving town is beset by underemployment and drug abuse. Lancaster native Brian Alexander chronicles the rise and fall of his hometown in his new book, Glass House.
“People are genuinely struggling,” he tells Fresh Air’s Dave Davies. “The economy of the town is struggling, not because there’s high unemployment, [but] because the employment that there is all minimum wage, or even lower than minimum wage.”
Fresh Air, February 6, 2017. NPR
In California, more than 100,000 people sleep on the streets. The tent cities in Los Angeles’s skid row have distinct neighborhoods, and across from a homelessness center, the bodies on the sidewalk are four rows deep. Trailers line the streets near Google’s Mountain View headquarters, and in Modesto, a woman sleeping in a cardboard box was crushed to death by a front loader that came to clear her encampment away.
Francesca Mari, NY Times
Fighting for Housing in America
By Conor Dougherty
Alexa Kasdan had a cold and a sore throat.
The 40-year-old public policy consultant from Brooklyn, N.Y., didn’t want her upcoming vacation trip ruined by strep throat. So after it had lingered for more than a week, she decided to get it checked out.
Kasdan visited her primary care physician, Roya Fathollahi, at Manhattan Specialty Care, just off Park Avenue South and not far from tony Gramercy Park.
The visit was quick. Kasdan got her throat swabbed, gave a tube of blood and was sent out the door with a prescription for antibiotics.
NPR, December 23, 2019
The system at work.
To better understand how rents and affordability have changed over time, Apartment List analyzed Census data from 1960 – 2014. We find that inflation-adjusted rents have risen by 64%, but real household incomes only increased by 18%. The situation was particularly challenging from 2000 – 2010: household incomes actually fell by 7%, while rents rose by 12%. As a result, the share of cost-burdened renters nationwide more than doubled, from 24% in 1960 to 49% in 2014.
Andrew Woo, How Have Rents Changed Since 1960?
Listed at $1,005/month, this studio apartment is located at 1431 Humboldt St. South.
In the apartment, you can expect a dishwasher. Amenities offered in the building include a resident lounge and on-site laundry. Pet owners, take heed: This property is both dog-friendly and cat-friendly. There’s no leasing fee required for this rental.
Walk Score indicates that the surrounding area is a “walker’s paradise,” is convenient for biking and offers many nearby public transportation options.
The workers who voted to unionize earn wages that start at around $35,000 a year, according to a source familiar with the matter. And they say they don’t receive all the same benefits such as retirement plans that are standard for full-time Google employees. Their move to organize represents a symbolic pushback against the status quo of growing economic inequality in Silicon Valley, where all but the top 10 percent of income earners have seen their wages decline from 1997 to 2017.
Shirin Ghaffary, vox
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Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
Cierra Brown estimates her commute to work would only take about 25 minutes if she had a car. That’s part of the reason she returned to McDonald’s in January: Her car had broken down and she needed money. But at McDonald’s, Brown only earns $9.50 per hour as a cashier, which barely helps cover rent and is far from enough to solve her vehicular woes. Without a car, one of Brown’s main headaches is getting to work. Her typical bus commute to McDonald’s takes as long as two hours each way.
By the time she starts work, she’s already tired. When she gets home, she’s exhausted.
“That is where a lot of my headache comes from,” she told VICE.
At 29, Brown works approximately 40 hours a week, splitting her time between a McDonald’s in Durham, North Carolina, and a food-service gig a local hospital. “It’s still not enough,” she said. Both jobs are part-time, and she doesn’t receive health insurance through either employer. She can’t afford insurance on her own, either. That’s a problem since Brown is diabetic, and she has to pay for her medical expenses out of pocket. She’s trying to do all she can on her own—she receives no food stamps or other assistance, she notes—but it rarely feels like she’s doing enough.
“It’s really rough right now,” she said.