Don’t be fooled by the low unemployment rate and Wall Street gains – hardworking Americans are still struggling to support themselves and their families.
A new report by the Urban Institute shows the depths that U.S. workers find themselves. Not only are nearly 40 percent of Americans not able to cover at least one of life’s basic necessities – housing, utilities, food or health care – but a third of households with at least one working adult can’t pay all their bills either.
“The social safety net faces a period of transition as policymakers seek significant changes to an array of programs that help low-income families pay for food, health care, housing and other basic needs,” the document states. “These changes are being considered in an economic environment that exposes many families to financial insecurity even as the economy approaches full employment in 2018.”
Of the nearly four in 10 adults who had trouble making ends meet last year, more than 60 percent of them endure multiple hardships. Food insecurity was the top concern, followed by problems paying medical bills. Following closely behind were adults who didn’t get medical care because of the cost.
This is not what should be happening in the wealthiest nation on the planet. But unfortunately, the economic gains that are being realized are lining the pockets of big business instead of flowing to the workers who help build those companies and make them successful.
Corporate earnings rose by 7.7 percent during the second quarter of 2018, but that hasn’t resulted in higher pay for rank-and-file workers, as a recent Pew Research Center report found.
“[D]espite the strong labor market, wage growth has lagged economists’ expectations,” wrote Pew’s Drew DeSilver. “In fact, despite some ups and downs over the past several decades, today’s real average wage (that is, the wage after accounting for inflation) has about the same purchasing power it did 40 years ago. And what wage gains there have been have mostly flowed to the highest-paid tier of workers.”
With Labor Day almost upon us, it is time to let elected officials know that workers recognize that not all is right with the U.S. economy. That’s where unions can come in. The Teamsters and our labor allies get higher wages, better benefits and more secure retirements for workers.
It’s time for working Americans to join together and demand their fair share. Together, that’s how we get this country back on track for everyone.