Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And the Screw goes a little tighter

The Big Picture: The Disconnect and Economic Classes

"Median income fell most sharply in the Midwest, where it dropped 2.8% to $44,700, though it remains $300 higher than the national average. The drop -- accompanied by a rise in poverty in the Midwest -- partly reflects the disappearance of high-wage manufacturing jobs.

Across the country, the Census Bureau said, median earnings for full-time workers employed year-round dropped significantly last year. Men's earnings declined by 2.3% to $40,798 and women's 1.0% to $31,223. The data, which don't reflect employer-provided health benefits, measure pretax income.

The fraction of Americans living below the official poverty line -- $19,307 for a family of four last year -- rose for the fourth consecutive year to 12.7% in 2004 from 12.5% the year before, the bureau said. Last year, 37 million Americans were living in poverty, about 1 million more than the year before and 5.4 million more than in 2000 when poverty bottomed out as the economy peaked.

The poverty rate rose for non-Hispanic whites -- to 8.6% from 8.2% the year before -- while falling among Asians to 9.8% in 2003 from 11.8%. Among blacks and Hispanics, there wasn't any significant change, the Census Bureau said. The biggest increase was among people between the ages of 18 and 64, rising to 11.3% from 10.8%. Among those 65 and over, the poverty rate fell to 9.8% from 10.2%. The Census Bureau poverty data don't reflect noncash government benefits, such as health insurance or food stamps.

The Census Bureau also said that the percentage of Americans without health insurance remained stable at 15.7% in 2004. The number lacking insurance increased by 800,000 to 45.8 million while the number with public or private health insurance increased by two million to 245.3 million."

Union Weakness lets Firms seek big concessions(subscription)

Last week, an ATT Holding Co.'s Ames True Temper Inc. shovel-making factory in Parkersburg, W.Va., was padlocked after the union rejected a 58% cut in pay and benefits, which would take pay from $17 an hour to $6.22 an hour, and set a $10,000 deductible for family health insurance coverage.

via Bacon and Eggs

The hyper wealthy are doing well carving up the gains workers had made in the last century.


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