Things Are Getting Worse: Median Household Income Has Fallen 4 Years In A Row
by Michael Snyder
New numbers that have just been released show that things are getting worse for American families. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income declined to $50,054 in 2011. That is a 1.5 percent decline from the previous year, and median household income has now fallen for 4 years in a row. In fact, after adjusting for inflation median household income has not been this low since 1995. These new numbers once again confirm what so many of us have been talking about for so long - American families are steadily getting poorer. Incomes are going down and the cost of living just keeps going up. This dynamic is squeezing more Americans out of the middle class every single month. Others just keep going into more debt in an attempt to maintain their previous lifestyles. As Americans, we really don't like to hear that things are getting worse and that we are in decline, but unfortunately that is exactly what is happening. Our economy does not produce nearly enough jobs for everyone anymore, the proportion of low wage jobs in our economy continues to grow, and the middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate. Our politicians can deliver speeches about how great we all are until the cows come home, but it isn't going to change the reality of our situation. If we want different results we have got to start taking different actions.
When you take the median household income of $50,054 and divide it up over 12 months, it comes to about $4000 a month.
About half of all American households are making more than that and about half of all American households are making less than that.
So can an average family of four people make it on just $4000 a month?
Well, first of all you have got to take out taxes. After accounting for all forms of taxation you will be lucky if you have $3000 remaining.
With that $3000, you have to pay for all of the following.
*At Least One Vehicle
*Home Or Rental Insurance
*Student Loan Debt Payments
*Credit Card Payments
*Entertainment (although it is hard to imagine any money will be left for that)
Have I left anything out?
The truth is that $3000 does not go as far as it used to.
No wonder American families are feeling so stretched financially these days.
Most families can't even afford to think about retirement or investments because most of them are just trying to figure out a way to survive from month to month.
Unfortunately, economic conditions for middle income Americans continue to deteriorate. Being in the middle class in America is like playing a perverse game of musical chairs. More chairs are constantly being pulled out of the game and the middle class just continues to shrivel up.
The following are some more statistics that show that things are getting worse....
-In 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance. Today, only 55.1 percent are covered by employment-based health insurance.
-Health insurance premiums rose faster than the overall rate of inflation in 2011 and that is happening once again in 2012. In fact, it is been happening for a very long time.
-In the United States today, there are close to 10 million households that do not have a single bank account. That number has increased by about a million since 2009.
-Back in 1962, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans had 125 times the net worth of the median household. Today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans has 288 times the net worth of the median household.
-Back in 2007, 19.2 percent of all American families had a net worth of zero or less than zero. By 2010, that figure had soared to 32.5 percent.
-According to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center, 32 percent of all Americans now identify themselves as "lower class". In 2008, that figure was only at 25 percent.
-As I have written about previously, 61 percent of all Americans were "middle income" back in 1971 according to the Pew Research Center. Today, only 51 percent of all Americans are "middle income".
-62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
-Electricity bills in the United States have risen faster than the overall rate of inflation for five years in a row.
-There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
-According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of American families dropped "from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010".
-Sadly, 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
-At this point, less than 25 percent of all jobs in the United States are "good jobs", and that number continues to shrink.
-The percentage of working age Americans that are employed is smaller now than it was two years ago.
-The number of Americans that are financially dependent on the government is sitting at an all-time record, and it just keeps going up.
-If the labor force participation rate was the same today as it was back when Barack Obama first took office, the unemployment rate in the United States would be 11.2 percent.
That last statistic deserves some special attention.
If the exact same percentage of Americans were considered to be "in the work force" today as when Barack Obama became president, the unemployment rate in this country would be well over 11 percent.
But the federal government has pretended that millions upon millions of Americans have "left the work force" over the past few years and that allows them to tell the fib that the unemployment rate has actually declined to 8.1 percent.
Of course we all know that is a bunch of nonsense. About the same percentage of Americans want a job today as was the case back in 2008.
But 8.1 percent looks way better than 11.2 percent does.
What makes all of this even more distressing is that this is the recovery.
Things are not going to be getting much better than this. We are rapidly approaching the next wave of the economic collapse and all of the numbers posted above are going to be getting a lot worse.
So even though things may be tight for your family right now, you should enjoy these times while you still have them.
Someday we will look back on these years as "the good old days".
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