Monday, September 12, 2011

1/3rd of u.s. middle-class slips into poverty

Video - War - Slippin into Darkness - Live 1972 Chicago version

WHT | Nearly one in three Americans who grew up in the middle class has slipped down the income ladder as an adult, according to a new report by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Downward mobility is most common among middle-class people who are divorced or separated from their spouses, did not attend college, scored poorly on standardized tests, or used hard drugs, the report says.

"A middle-class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime," the report says.

The study focused on people who were middle-class teenagers in 1979 and who were between 39 and 44 years old in 2004 and 2006. It defines people as middle-class if they fall between the 30th and 70th percentiles in income distribution, which for a family of four is between $32,900 and $64,000 a year in 2010 dollars.

People were deemed downwardly mobile if they fell below the 30th percentile in income, if their income rank was 20 or more percentiles below their parents' or if, in absolute terms, they earn at least 20 percent less than their parents. The findings do not cover the difficult times that the nation has endured since 2007.

Pew researchers said the study's structure did not permit an analysis of whether upward mobility has become more difficult through the years. Nonetheless, some economists point to growing income inequality and widely stagnating wages as evidence that the American Dream is slipping out of reach for many people.


Uglyblackjohn said...

But many who would be considered as being poor today are enjoying a lifestyle reserved for the middle class a couple of generations ago. Many poor people have so many luxuries that they really cannot be counted as being poor.

CNu said...

If they don't have the luxury of at least a 6 month safety net, of not having to work and receive a paycheck to keep the wolf away from their door, then they're poor...,

Uglyblackjohn said...

Yeah... even many thought to be middle class are poor by that standard.

Down here on the Gulf oil has helped a lot of people build nice little nest eggs.

I know about a hundred Blacks who retired from the military, then worked for refineries or started their own businesses, saved their money, paid off their homes, retired and they still have over a million sitting in bank accounts.
To look at them they'd look like they were poor Working-Class Joes but they they sit on their money waiting for the 'hard times'.
To a person, they all try to get the maximum value out of every purchase. (And they still believe that if the conversation is not about money then no one ever mentions money.)

Then there are those who work for one of the three P's (Plants (refineries), Ports, and/or Prisons) in jobs which pay well but that require little education in this affordable market.
Most of these spend almost every cent they earn trying to live like Diddy.
Most of these replace goods when they no longer look new or when newer models come out.
Most of these begin each utterance by mentioning the price of every purchase. 

I just left the home (in the hood) of a family which has three working adults living in it.
They don't even pay rent and their cars are paid off.
They get MediCare, Food Stamps and the kids get free breakfast and lunch, school suplies and clothes from various charities. 
But almost every day they are broke.
These people shop, go out to eat and pay people to do what were once considered common household chores.
They have the standard Ghetto-Fab life (Polo&Nike clothing, 20" rims, several Flat Panel TV's, Ashley funiture throughout,...) and they have no idea that they are poor. 

Dd said...

You guy are very thoughtful.

Isn't UBJ's original point still quite relevant, in that if you plucked a middle-class family from 1950 and tossed them into the modern system they would be able to amass a six-month nest egg easily, assuming they maintained their same lifestyle?

Of course, this makes the false assumption that we are rational, instead of social animals.

John Kurman said...

Fallacy of the same difference. Temporal equivocation, if you prefer.

Example: Why 1950? Why not 1870? Or 1760? A 2010 family of four living off of $11,000/annum will certainly have a fridge, and may have a TV. These are infernal devices in the 18th century, symptomatic of contracts with the Devil.

But sincerely, care to do the systemic comparison? In other words, what would it take infrastructure-wise to have the same water quality/nutritional/ standards/lack of disease/quality of life/accident/death rates/etc. Impossible. Forget about living like kings, the 2010 family is from Mt. Olympus. Can we do the reverse equivalent then, if such exists? What would a 2010 family need to live 1760s style?  In 1760s dollars, a family of four is living on around $800/annum. They are certainly homeless in America on that cash inflow. Is that a closer comparison?

Or do we recognize that it's a comparison deserving nothing more than ridicule?

Really, even with a 1950s baseline, it's comparing the Flinststones to the Jetsons, which is...

CNu said...

But sincerely, care to do the systemic comparison? In other words, what
would it take infrastructure-wise to have the same water
quality/nutritional/ standards/lack of disease/quality of
life/accident/death rates/etc. Impossible. Forget about living like
kings, the 2010 family is from Mt. Olympus.

I'm your huckleberry Johnny..., the apples to apples - or black gold to black gold - comparison has to focus on energy consumption.
A barrel of oil equivalent has approximately the same daily productive energy value as 110 slaves.

Here's a more meaningful and onto comparison. U.S. poor use 12.5 Kilowatt hours of energy in the same period and affluent Swiss citizen uses 5KWh - no rational person would attempt to argue that the contemporary affluent Swiss is somehow deprived in comparison with the broke as a joke and painfully energy inefficient U.S. impoverished.

That 1950 v. 2011 flintstones v. jetsons dismissal places FAAAAR too much emphasis on the amusements available from one era to the next, rather than on the substantive aspects of daily life like water, transport, education, food, clothing, heat and light, etc...,

Now that it's clear that our aggregate available net energy consumption is going to be forced into steady decline, the question is one of whether or not we're collectively up to the task of getting at least retro-Swiss about our efficiency (retro, because the Swiss are looking to cut their current levels of energy consumption in half from present levels less than half our own)

John Kurman said...

Good stuff. There are still some tweaks to make, because amusements can be  informative and therefore of occasional not-insubstantial survival value. (Example, I can access the Heimlich maneuver over this electronic teletype glass viewer and save someone. In the 1950s, what? Hope I have first-aid training?). So, a few additional dimensions and weighting of parameters (1950s energy efficiencies not up to 2010s). But now we got something. So, it looks like the American poor just aren't poor enough, since they have the strength to keep the flies out of their mouths, and we are back to using restricted freedom of choice as a metric, perhaps.

CNu said...

prolly has something to do with why Google and Facebook have begun publishing their petabyte data centers' energy consumption...,

John Kurman said...

so long as surgical intervention is not required, I'm up for it. Question is, will others be able to put up with me. Say I forget to turn myself off, and everyone experiences my dream states... like for example the other night I dreamt I had boobs, really big ones, and it's true what they say what you say :"Wow. Now I really don't have to leave the house anymore..."

CNu said...

The fullest possible extent of your cognitive infiltration will be no greater than that of a blog on the public interwebs today. Sooooo, if you mackin them big melons, it'll only be a matter for you, the extent of your capacity to instantiate that big melon metadata, and the select few who opt to follow you and your cyberversal proclivities, really pretty micro-insurgent and harmless in the encompassing scheme of things.

However, what a major infrastructure provider could do to you, if it so elected, would be immeasurable. The ONLY conceivable recourse as against such a saturation, would be through the intervention of hackers capable of exacting a price on the infrastructure providers.  The digital metaverse has the potential for becoming a "culture of shame" like nothing any puritan ever dreamt of - but in parallel with this sad and sordid fact - it has the potential for becoming the most exacting cognitive meritocracy that any philosopher/alchemist ever dreamt of - so long as that philosopher maintains a hacktivistically potent following.

Dale Asberry said...

Will we really get there? These devices are very high energy to manufacture and use. And the technology just isn't there. I've been following those wearable displays for at least 10 years now.

Do I think it's possible? Absolutely. Possible before TSHTF? Don't think so, a dark age to eclipse the Dark Ages.

nanakwame said...

How poor are American poor