Low Wages in an Economic Boom Time

Today:
* 2.2 million working people are paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour or less.
* Approximately another 23 million people are paid between $7.25 and $11 an hour.
* Nearly half (42.4 percent) of working Americans make less than $15 per hour.

 

The productivity of American workers has roughly doubled since 1968 (the peak of the minimum wage in inflation-adjusted dollars), but workers making the minimum wage today make 25 percent less than they did in 1968, once adjusted to today’s dollars. Even though unemployment has dropped precipitously, sitting well below 5 percent for the last three years, it has not been until recently that wage increases for workers in lower-paying occupations have occurred.2 And much of that growth at the low end of the distribution has come from action on the minimum wage at not the federal level, but the state and local level.

Making the Economic Case for a $15 Minimum Wage
THE CENTURY FOUNDATION

Harvard Study: 60% of Bankruptcies Caused by Health Problems

A new study finds that more than 60% of personal bankruptcies in the United States in 2007 were caused by health-care costs associated with a major illness. That’s a 50% increase in the number of bankruptcies blamed on medical expenses since a similar study in 2001.

In an article published in the August 2009 issue of the American Journal of Medicine, the results of the first-ever national random-sample survey of bankruptcy filers shows that illnesses and medical bills contribute to a large and increasing share of bankruptcies.

Consumer Affairs, Truman Lewis

The good times aren’t good for everyone in California

The economy here is booming, but no one feels especially good about it. When the cost of living is taken into account, billionaire-brimming California ranks as the most poverty-stricken state, with a fifth of the population struggling to get by. Since 2010, migration out of California has surged.

The basic problem is the steady collapse of livability. Across my home state, traffic and transportation is a developing-world nightmare. Child care and education seem impossible for all but the wealthiest. The problems of affordable housing and homelessness have surpassed all superlatives — what was a crisis is now an emergency that feels like a dystopian showcase of American inequality.

America’s Cities Are Unlivable. Blame Wealthy Liberals,  Farhad Manjoo, nytimes

California Housing Crisis, some numbers

From 2010 to 2017 the greater San Francisco Bay Area added 546,000 new jobs but only 76,000 new housing units. Where did civic leaders think these hundreds of thousands of additional people would live? California, which has the nation’s worst statewide housing crisis, needs to built 180,000 units a year just to keep up with population growth. Yet in no year from 2007-2017 did the state build even 100,000 units.

Shaw, Randy. Generation Priced Out

 

Alternative Housing – Dorms, for non students

Instead, Starcity residents get a bedroom of 130 square feet to 220 square feet. Many of the buildings will feature some units with a private bath for a higher rent. But Jon Dishotsky, Starcity’s co-founder and chief executive, said a ratio of one bathroom for every two to three bedrooms makes the most sense for large-scale affordability. The average one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco rents for $3,300 a month, but Starcity rooms go for $1,400 to $2,400 a month fully furnished, with utilities and Wi-Fi included.

via nytimes

Seattle resident explains why he’s ‘had it’

The toxic politics are bad enough, but the city also has become unaffordable for the middle class. Partly, that is due to high demand (which is a good problem for a city to have), but it’s also due to self-inflicted wounds, such as a restrictive housing policy that artificially caps supply. Seattle is well on its way to becoming the next Vancouver, British Columbia, with the median housing price having spiked to an eye-watering $820,000, far outside the reach of the middle class. Unless they are able to save for about 14 years to afford a down payment, millennials can forget about homeownership entirely.

The writer has lived in Seattle for 14 years and is moving on.

Gentrification 2018

Are we in another bubble? I remember 2008. I see a lot of places for rent and for sale that I don’t see a lot of people being able to afford. Maybe I’m not getting it.

Here’s how it looks in Somerville, Massachusetts.

For a century and more, Somerville was a working-class neighborhood bordering Cambridge. The city is still populated with a dense mix of blue-collar workers and recent immigrants, all living in together in red-brick and clapboard three-decker housing. It also provided many affordable, off-campus rooms and apartments to Tufts, Harvard, and MIT students as well as artists, writers, and radicals. Today, it’s dealing with the aftershocks of a boom in biotech and the knowledge economy that’s now rippling out from post-rent-control Cambridge. That bloom of wealth and demand is pushing premium jobs and rocketing rents into neighboring Somerville, a place where suddenly everybody wants to live and a lot of proud residents can no longer afford.

via Open Source with Christopher Lydon