Too many working Americans continue to struggle through no fault of their own. While elites seem to like to pointing fingers at those scraping to get by, however, new numbers show that those economic challenges are too often are out of their hands.
A new report looking at economic inequality, for instance, shows the role that luck plays in workers being able to make ends meet. Illness, accidents and natural disasters can all play a role in hampering the opportunities of those on the job, the document notes.
For most, the economic situation they are born into plays a significant role in where they will end up when they are adults and working for a living. Economic mobility statistics show that only 7.5 percent of those born into the bottom 20 percent of household income will rise into the top 20 percent of income. That’s much lower than most of the world’s wealthiest nations.
“We’re always told that if you work hard and persist through adversity that you can rise above your humble (or horrible) circumstances and become wealthy. But that isn’t true,” author and activist Randy Schutt told the Economic Policy Institute blog. “Most people are so beaten down by our economic system that they have to be lucky just to get by. And they have to be very lucky to do well and extremely well to get super rich.”
Want another reason while many workers aren’t making it? A yawning pay disparity between whites and Latinos and African-Americans in 2018, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Blacks make only 59 cents for every dollar earned by whites, while Latinos earn 73 cents.
So how can workers change their economic path? By joining a union. The median union worker makes upwards of $10,000 more a year than the median non-union one. That is real money that goes into their pocket and helps them support their families and keep a roof over their heads. Those jobs also come with better health care and other benefits.
Of course, those wages and benefits are the same no matter your race, gender, ethnicity or a host of other factors. The Teamsters and others don’t allow employers to pay different rates to different workers doing the same job. Unfortunately, that’s the reality for too many hardworking Americans right now.
The economy needs to work for everyone. Lawmakers must put policies in place to do so, or face the wrath of voters in 2020.