Do not be misled by the low rate of unemployment and the gains in Wall Street. The fact of the matter is that it remains a struggle for hardworking Americans to earn enough income for themselves and their families.
The Urban Institute, in a new report, demonstrates how low workers in the US have sunk. About 40 percent of Americans cannot meet at least one of life’s basic needs (food, housing, and utilities). In addition, a third of all households where at least one adult is working are unable to pay their bills.
The document says that the country faces a transition period in regard to the social safety net as policy formulators ponder making considerable changes in order to assist poor families to pay for the basic necessities. The envisaged changes are coming into an economic climate that has left a lot of families vulnerable to financial uncertainty at the same time as the economy moves towards full employment this year.
Out of the approximately 40% of the people who had difficulties getting by last year, over 60% of them faced numerous challenges. The number one concern was food insecurity followed by medical bill payment issues. The third biggest problem was people lacking medical care due to the cost.
Citizens of the world’s richest nation should not be experiencing such problems. But sadly the economic growth that is happening is filling the coffers of big businesses rather than benefiting the workers who help to make these companies big and successful.
According to a recent report prepared by the Pew Research Center, corporate earnings increased by 7.7% over the second quarter of 2018. However, this did not translate to better pay for ordinary workers.
Drew DeSilver of Pew Research Center noted that the growth of wages has fallen behind the expectations of economists, in spite of the robust labor market. Actually, the real average wage of today (which means the wage after taking inflation into account) has almost the same level of purchasing power as that of forty years ago, even with the fluctuations experienced over that period. And where there have been wage increases, most often the beneficiaries have been the highly-paid workers.
Labor Day is around the corner and the time has come to notify the elected officials that workers know there is something wrong with the US economy. This is where unions could come into the equation. The Teamsters, in collaboration with our allies in the labor sector, fight for better benefits, higher wages and secure retirement plans for US workers.
The time has come for working-class Americans to unite and clamor for their rightful share. It is only when we collaborate that we will get everybody in this country moving in the right direction.