WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Midway through the last game of the 2013 Carolina League season, after he’d swept peanut shells and mopped soda off the concourse, Ed Green lumbered upstairs to the box seats to dump the garbage.
Green was already 12 hours into his workday. He rose at dawn to lay tar on the highway. As the sun sank, he switched uniforms and drove to BB&T Ballpark, where he runs the custodial crew for a minor-league baseball team. Now it was dark and his radio was crackling. It was his boss, asking him to head back downstairs. Green walked onto the first-base line and into a surprise. In front of 6,000 fans, the Winston-Salem Dash honored him as the team’s employee of the year.
The crowd applauded. The game resumed. Green walked back upstairs. The trash wasn’t going to empty itself.
Green once held a middle-class job. Now, to make enough money to send his children to college, he works the equivalent of two full-time jobs: one maintaining highways for the state of North Carolina and one ushering fans and collecting trash for a variety of sports teams around Winston-Salem.
The American economy has stopped delivering the broadly shared prosperity that the nation grew accustomed to after World War II. The explanation for why that is begins with the millions of middle-class jobs that vanished over the past 25 years, and with what happened to the men and women who once held those jobs.
Millions of Americans are working harder than ever just to keep from falling behind; Green is one of them. Those workers have been devalued in the eyes of the economy, pushed into jobs that pay them much less than the ones they once had.
Today, a shrinking share of Americans are working middle-class jobs, and collectively, they earn less of the nation’s income than they used to. In 1981, according to the Pew Research Center, 59 percent of American adults were classified as “middle income” — which means their household income was between two-thirds and double the nation’s median income. By 2011, it was down to 51 percent. In that time, the “middle” group’s share of the national income pie fell from 60 percent to 45 percent.
For that, you can blame the past three recessions, which sparked a chain reaction of layoffs and lower pay.
Millions of American jobs disappeared during the 1990, 2001 and 2008 recessions. That’s what happens in recessions. But for decades after World War II, lost jobs came back when the economy picked up again. These times, they didn’t. And it was a particular sort of job that disappeared permanently in those downturns, economists from Duke University and the University of British Columbia have found: jobs that companies could easily outsource overseas or replace with a machine.
Economists call those jobs “middle-skill” jobs. They include a lot of factory work — the country is down about 5.5 million manufacturing jobs since 1990, according to the Labor Department — but also a lot of clerical and sales tasks that can be handled easily from a country where workers make a fraction of what they make here.
Fernandes, 32, worked for years at three separate Dunkin Donuts, in Harrison, Newark and Linden. Between jobs she would pull her 2001 Kia Sportage off the road into parking lots and take naps.
On Monday, after working an overnight shift in Linden, she pulled into a corner of a WaWa convenience store parking lot off Routes 1 & 9 about 8:30 a.m. to sleep. She was found about eight hours later, apparently overcome by fumes from the vehicle, police said.
Truly excellent article about Irish politics, economy, and austerity.
It is a milestone in politics; but it coincides with a milestone in economics. The state visit by the Irish president Michael Higgins comes at a time when his country’s economy is at last creating jobs in solid numbers, a sign that the recovering world economy is pulling even those countries most savaged by the recession back to growth.
Ireland is fascinating not just because it happens to be the UK’s nearest neighbour, with a land border, all the links of language and culture, and be the UK’s fifth largest export market. It is an extreme example of many of the trends in the world economy over the past decade.
Ireland has been, in proportion to its size, the most successful country in the world at attracting inward investment, and through the 2000-2007 period the fastest-growing developed economy. It had just about the most extreme property boom, and the most extreme subsequent collapse. It had proportionately the biggest banking crash, and - Greece apart - the severest collapse in GDP. And now it is the first of the eurozone’s troubled fringe to start perking up, for the flip from stagnation to growth seems at last to have occurred.
But job growth is now solid at 60,000 last year, roughly the same as the UK proportionate to the two economies, and the Central Bank forecasts unemployment to fall from 13.1 per cent last year to 11.3 per cent this year, and to 10.5 per cent in 2015.
People will try and draw specific conclusions from this, and in Europe one of the messages you hear is that austerity works. That does, however, ignore the human, social and regional costs - the fact that so many people had to leave the country to get jobs, the debt burden on people who bought homes near the top of the market, and the minimal recovery outside the Dublin agglomeration.
A wider and perhaps more useful conclusion is that the rising tide of the world economy is floating all boats. Yesterday we had the new forecasts from the International Monetary Fund, where the headline was another boost to the UK, which it now expects to grow by 2.9 per cent this year. Less noticed was the reasonably upbeat tone for the world economy as a whole - slightly slower in the emerging world, slightly faster in the developed.
Sales of Fairtrade products have increased by 18% in Ireland, despite the recession, according to Dunstan Burke, financial controller of Fairtrade Ireland who spoke recently at Athlone Institute of Technology (AIT).
Mr Burke added that Irish consumers continue to support Fairtrade despite the economic downturn experienced since 2008. Ethically produced and sourced goods of a consistent quality, as diverse as cotton, coffee, fruit, nuts, pulses and handcrafts, are very much in demand, he said.
The Fairtrade concept evolved from the fact that producers of primary products in developing countries were not receiving an economically viable price for their produce. Fairtrade certification ensures that producers and cooperatives across the developing world get prices that will ensure feasibility, in addition to a social premium that is used to fund health, education and community development projects.
Burke was accompanied by Alex Flores, manager of ACOPETA, cashew nut producers cooperative, located in southern El Salvador. Senor Flores detailed the huge difference that a Fairtrade base price and social premium has made to the community of fifty-five members. Children who previously worked on the cashew plantations can now attend school regularly thanks to the regular income provided to families through Fairtrade Certification.
Each year, as part of Fairtrade fortnight, Fairtrade Ireland sponsor two representatives from beneficiary communities to share their experiences throughout Ireland in educational institutions and other spaces.
AIT (Athlone Institute of Technology) has been involved in the Fairtrade movement since 2005. As part of the Fairtrade towns initiative in 2005, it was nominated as the flagship organisation in Athlone to promote the Fairtrade ideal. In 2009 the institute worked closely with the Dioceses of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise recognised as Ireland’s first Fairtrade dioceses.
For the cubicle-bound:
Below is text as prepared for delivery of an economic speech delivered Wednesday at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill. by President Barack Obama.
Eight years ago, I came here to deliver the commencement address for the class of 2005. Things were a little different back then. I didn’t have any gray hair, for example. Or a motorcade. I didn’t even have a teleprompter. It was my first big speech as your newest senator, and I spent my time talking about what a changing economy was doing to the middle class - and what we, as a country, needed to do to give every American a chance to get ahead in the 21st century.
You see, I’d just spent a year traveling this state and listening to your stories - of proud Maytag workers losing their jobs when their plant moved down to Mexico; of teachers whose salaries weren’t keeping up with the rising cost of groceries; of young people who had the drive but not the money to afford a college education.
They were the stories of families who worked hard and believed in the American Dream, but felt that the odds were increasingly stacked against them. And they were right.
In the period after World War II, a growing middle class was the engine of our prosperity. Whether you owned a company, swept its floors, or worked anywhere in between, this country offered you a basic bargain - a sense that your hard work would be rewarded with fair wages and benefits, the chance to buy a home, to save for retirement, and, above all, to hand down a better life for your kids.
But over time, that engine began to stall. That bargain began to fray. Technology made some jobs obsolete. Global competition sent others overseas. It became harder for unions to fight for the middle class. Washington doled out bigger tax cuts to the rich and smaller minimum wage increases for the working poor. The link between higher productivity and people’s wages and salaries was severed - the income of the top 1% nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, while the typical family’s barely budged.
Towards the end of those three decades, a housing bubble, credit cards, and a churning financial sector kept the economy artificially juiced up. But by the time I took office in 2009, the bubble had burst, costing millions of Americans their jobs, their homes, and their savings. The decades-long erosion of middle-class security was laid bare for all to see and feel.
Today, five years after the start of that Great Recession, America has fought its way back.
By outward appearances, Stockton, a city of nearly 300,000 on the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, seemed in the mid-2000s to be emerging from decades of struggle.
Next to its gleaming downtown waterfront — a window to the West’s largest fresh-water estuary — a beautiful new $46 million glass hockey arena rose in 2005. That same year, the Oakland A’s single-A affiliate Ports began play in a new taxpayer-financed stadium, amenities sought by elected officials catering to a wave of new residents fleeing Bay Area congestion and home prices.
High salaries and lucrative benefits were supposed to attract and retain the brightest city workforce to improve the quality of life for its residents. “We spent like the good times would go on forever,” said Stockton spokeswoman Connie Cochrane.
But then the recession hit, and the good times went bust. On Monday, the state’s 13th-largest city begins federal court proceedings that could end with it becoming the most populous in the nation to successfully enter Chapter 9 bankruptcy, a move opposed by those who lent the money to keep it flush.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Dow is closing at a record, beating the previous high it set in October 2007, before the financial crisis and the Great Recession.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 125.95 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 14,253.77 Tuesday, beating its previous record by 89 points.
The index is up 8.8 percent this year, capping a remarkable comeback. The Dow has more than doubled since hitting a 12-year low in March 2009.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 14.59 points, or 1 percent, to 1,539.79. The S&P is also within striking distance of its record close of 1,565.
The Nasdaq gained 42.10 points, or 1.3 percent, to 3,224.13.
Three stocks rose for every one that fell on the New York Stock Exchange. Volume was light, 3.3 billion shares.
THAT HORRIBLE OBAMA CAUSED THIS!!!1111!!
Ecuador’s President Correa again won the presidency in the country’s recent election. In addition, his party won more than a 2/3 majority in the national congress. This means that he now has the power to change the constitution without a national vote. Essentially, he has no opposition that matters.
People are beginning to wonder about the implications of this unlimited power. Two serious conflicts already loom on the horizon as a result of Correa’s desire to again alter the path Ecuador will follow. One is a possible war in the Amazon. Another could mean the wholesale introduction of GMO’s into the country.
As was expected, Correa won the election handily, with more than 57% of the vote. His closest rival gained only 24%. It makes me wonder if some of the multitude of other candidates got any votes at all other than from family and friends.
“This victory is yours. It belongs to our families, to our wives, to our friends, our neighbors, the entire nation,” Correa said. “We are only here to serve you. Nothing for us. Everything for you, a people who have become dignified in being free.”
Guess what, Republicans? Most Americans aren’t getting raises right now, and it’s not because they suck at their jobs. Also, thanks for making the exact same argument that public sector unions have been making regarding cuts to teachers’ pay, etc.
A source told The Hill that no one is giving them any input about what they’re supposed to do. They have leases! They have people who were being paid x amount for years! You can’t cut their pay!
Good God, people, it’s almost like there’s a recession. A few concerned Republicans are consolidating two positions into one and offering to pay for their own postage when they write constituents. They love the idea of making due with a wee bit less. It’s like a dress up game. Look, I sacrificed something! SO CUTE!
Can you still eat? I’m not sure we’re on the same playing field yet. See, these cuts are going to take food from babies and seniors. Forgive me if I find that a little more troubling than Republican retention.