The Severe Middle-Class Squeeze
This Washington Post story about the recession pulling more mothers out of the home and into the workforce recalls this recent column by L.A. Times columnist Tim Rutten, who reminds us that it’s no new trend.
“[I]f you adjust for inflation,” Rutten writes, “the average income of American males has not grown in real terms since the 1970s.”
Most families have compensated for that by sending mom to work outside the home. (The simultaneous push for equality by the women’s movement masked the fact that significant numbers of women now in the workforce were drafted by economic necessity.)
The wholesale flight of American employers from the responsibility of maintaining traditional pension plans forced tens of millions of 401(k) participants into the equity markets to secure their retirements. The crash erased $5 trillion from their accounts.
Add to this mix an unemployment/underemployment rate near 20 percent — not to mention the fact that the economy created precisely zero net jobs over the last decade — and the true extent of the troubles facing the nation’s middle class begins to emerge.
Something to think about while some in Congress see a solution in more free trade agreements.