Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The U.S. Middle-Class is Alive and Well

From "The Myth of Middle-Class Job Loss" in today's WSJ:

The assertion that the American middle-class is disappearing along with manufacturing jobs is, put simply, based on an outdated view of how the economy operates, and is empirically wrong.

Here's the bottom line: For three-quarters of the workforce (women and the top half of male earners), economic growth (since 1979) translated into earnings gains. But for male workers in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, the decline of unionized manufacturing employment has led to the drying up of some middle-class jobs for those with no post-secondary education.

For the clear majority of the workforce, then, the job market has become more welcoming, not less so.

10 Comments:

At 10/24/2007 10:16 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Golly gee! Someone at the Idea Factory for the Democrats is starting to come to grips with reality...

I wonder how Robert Dreyfuss is going to spin this bit of bad news for the Dems?

After all, hurting middle class has been part of the Dems' mantra for quite awhile now...

 
At 10/24/2007 11:07 AM, Blogger spencer said...

Yes, if you throw out all the bad observations the rest are doing great.

 
At 10/24/2007 1:28 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

You left out the following paragraph from the article:

"While the pessimists would have us go backward, we should be working today on expanding opportunities in the future. In particular, we have to address what we can do to help displaced men who lack post-secondary education. Higher levels of unionization and increasing the minimum wage would help, but they don't address the more basic need, which is to provide people with the necessary skills for the modern marketplace."

 
At 10/24/2007 3:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But for male workers in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, the decline of unionized manufacturing employment has led to the drying up of some middle-class jobs for those with no post-secondary education.

What a load of @$@&#! The argument that everything would be great if the poor uneducated masses got an education is bogus.

Who, if everyone were educated to that higher level so often prescribed to those wanting more money, would do the jobs that pay minimum wage and have no benefits?

 
At 10/24/2007 3:58 PM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Anonymous is correct. Somebody will always be in the bottom 50% of wage earners regardless of educational attainment. However, for now, all data show that education and training are the best ways to achieve financial security. I might add that education does a lot for emotional happiness, too.

The days of low skill and high pay are definitely over. Marketable skill-sets will be necessary for above average pay in the 21st century.

 
At 10/24/2007 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who, if everyone were educated to that higher level so often prescribed to those wanting more money, would do the jobs that pay minimum wage and have no benefits?

Immigrants.

 
At 10/25/2007 6:48 AM, Blogger juandos said...

re: "Higher levels of unionization and increasing the minimum wage would help" is totally bogus since Detroit, the rust belt and other places are testament to the just the opposite...

re: "Who, if everyone were educated to that higher level so often prescribed to those wanting more money, would do the jobs that pay minimum wage and have no benefits?"...

Are you confusing education for education's sake with being educated in a needed job skill?

re: "Immigrants"...

Well if they are LEGAL immigrants... Hasn't that been the history of this country until relatively recently?

 
At 10/25/2007 7:12 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

Juandos,

I just wanted to point out that professor Perry quoted part of the article and left something out. I don’t believe in the concept of a minimum wage or unions that won’t adapt to a changing world. I know that comment will surprise some people because I am pro-union, but I’m quite concerned about a lot of the things I think unions do wrong.

Anonymous,

There will always be people at the bottom of the wage scale; that’s what makes it the bottom. However, over time, the bottom should not be the same people. As those at the bottom move up, they will be replaced by new workers who, in time, will move up, too.
I think the current economic system stresses the importance of a good education and/or a marketable skill-set.

Sadly, a lot of the workers who stay on the bottom over time are expecting a miracle of another low-skill, high-wage economic environment. While they are waiting for the “good ole days” to return, they find themselves frustrated about the competitive globalized economy.

On the other hand, as research shows, those who embrace change are amply rewarded for their efforts. The evidence is crystal clear about the path upward, so the only question that remains: What are you going to do about it? It’s really your own choice how you want to live your life.

 
At 10/25/2007 10:34 AM, Blogger juandos said...

walt g says: "I am pro-union"...

Same here amigo, pro union but NOT necessarily applauding every move they make - been that way for 30+ years too...

I totally agree with you on how many (though not all) unions are slow, sometimes abysmally slow to adapt to changing conditions in the workplace and in the economy....

I wonder if professor Mark left that part out to make sure we read the whole thing?

"The days of low skill and high pay are definitely over"...

Yes sir! Wiser words were never uttered...

 
At 10/25/2007 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Artificial restrictions imposed by lobbying groups, unions, professional associations and etc. result in pay levels that are not directly proportional to the education required for the job in question.

Globalization is working to level the playing field so that (for example) a highly trained cardiologist in New York can expect to compete against and in time earn the same as her counterpart in India.

 

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