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(Greenstone & Looney/The Hamilton Project)

Catherine Crampell at The New York Times Economix blog pointed to a disturbing article Thursday. It shows that full-time male workers in the United States were making less in real, that is, inflation-adjusted, dollars in 2009 than they were in 1969.

But the picture is even worse than that. When you take into account all men aged 25-64, whether they are working full time or not, they are making far less in real dollars in 2009 than they were four decades ago. Unsurprisingly, the less education they have, the worse off they are. The chart above shows just how bad it is.

The bottom-line: Wages for men have not just stagnated over the past four decades, they've slipped. And this is true regardless of education.

These data come from an article by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney, both of the Brookings Institution and the Hamilton Project, the latter founded in 2006 by Robert Rubin to set forth an agenda of centrist economics for Democratic administrations to adopt. They write:

Over the past 40 years, a period in which U.S. GDP per capita more than doubled after adjusting for inflation, the annual earnings of the median prime-aged male has actually fallen by 28 percent. Indeed, males at the middle of the wage distribution now earn about the same as their counterparts in the 1950s! This decline reflects both stagnant wages for men on the job, and the fact that, compared with 1969, three times as many men of working age don’t work at all. [...]

Standard economic theory tells us that it is a consequence of reduced earnings opportunities and/or a greater desire to spend time out, broadening global markets brought opportunities that increasingly educated American workers raced to embrace. This resulted in steadily rising living standards, generations of children who out-earned their parents, and a thriving middle class.

While some say that the change could be from people—men, in this case—changing their life-styles out of a desire for more leisure or because they prefer to have their spouse bring in the cash while they take care of the kids or watch day-time television and eat bon-bons, Greenstone and Looney say the evidence points to the "primary cause" as being lost opportunity.

That loss is far greater for men with less education. Forty years ago, a college degree bought a man, on average, a lifetime income 55 percent higher than for his counterpart with only a high school diploma. Forty years later, the gap had more than doubled to 116 percent. We're familiar with many of the reasons for this. Technological change, globalization that has shifted jobs requiring less skills to emerging economies overseas, higher productivity from automation and the arrival of the "knowledge age" have all made it tougher on men without a degree. Those without a high school diploma? Well, they're paddle-less up the proverbial creek. And it seems to be getting worse.

Labor-market dropouts are more likely to be low skilled and less educated: nonemployment among men without high school diplomas increased by 23 percentage points (from 11 to 34 percent) and among those with only a high school degree by 18 percentage points (from 4 to 22 percent). Thus, the biggest declines in
employment occurred among those groups that also had the biggest declines in market
wages, suggesting the same economic forces may be at work. [...]
(Greenstone & Looney/The Hamilton Project)
What appeared as stagnant earnings for
workers is really an outright decline in wages for the median men of working age. The median wage of the American male has declined by almost $13,000 after accounting for inflation in the four decades since 1969. (Using a different measure of inflation suggests a smaller, but still substantial, drop in earnings.) Indeed, earnings haven’t been this low since Ike was president and Marshal Dillon was keeping the peace in Dodge City.

For the high school drop-out, the plunge in real-dollar earnings between now and 1969 is a horrific 66 percent. For the man with a high-school diploma it's 47 percent. And yet, despite these astonishing numbers, the percentage of men graduating from college is nearly unchanged for the past 35 years.

While the magnitude of such statistics may leap out at you, it's no real surprise that lower-skilled Americans have seen this drop in their earnings abilities as many of the kinds of jobs they could have gotten 40 years ago no longer exist in the United States. Chalk that up to all those factors already mentioned and add to it an emphasis on a free-trade policy that many observers consider to be a wrong-headed and unfair approach. It gives away American jobs and kills small and medium-sized businesses while enriching the more flexible U.S.-based corporations and their foreign subsidiaries as well as the financial industry where so much gross domestic product has shifted. It's what some dare to call the natural order of things that cannot be stopped.

Then there's that other disturbing bit of data in the numbers. Median income even for college-educated, full-time workers is down 2 percent since 1969, 7 percent down for all college-educated workers and 12 percent down for all working-age men with a college degree, including those who, for whatever reason, aren't working.

What's that about? Too many visas handed out to highly skilled foreigners who will work for less than their citizen counterparts? Decades of union-busting as well as outright disdain for unions by well-educated professionals in the private sector? Greed on the part of those who are determined to continue transferring wealth ever upward at the expense of a middle-class earners even when killing off the middle-class weakens the economy and ultimately the underpinnings of what made the wealthy wealthy? Creative destruction that is much more destructive than creative?

Greenstone and Looney don't have an answer. For the less skilled workers, they offer the usual nostrums to improve things. These are reasonable if pedestrian. Most people should finish high school, they say. Getting there means more emphasis on educational attainment at every level, from pre-school on. And after that, there should be more training for people who are not college bound at places such as career academies, and community colleges, which, they explain "can play a vital role in improving the earnings of transitioning workers."

Well, yes, they can play such a role. And for many they still do. But, no offense intended, have the authors looked recently at what's happening to many community colleges these days? Increased tuition, increased class sizes, fewer class offerings, and the hiring of more adjunct professors making less money are not exactly conducive to raising skills.

Clearly, having more and better skills is a good thing, an investment in the future as the cliché would have it. But there's a real world out here that needs to be remembered. And in that world, as the earnings statistics for college-educated men show, just getting more education and more training doesn't solve all the problems. Particularly the problem of where to actually get a job. Centrist solutions don't help with that. They never have.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 01:24 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Education of 437 Americans Would Do Wonders. nt (9+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 01:35:43 PM PST

  •  If we're going to be earning 1950s wages (12+ / 0-)

    maybe President Romney can get us all cool cars like the Nash Ramblers his unbrainwashed Dad was pushing.

    Resist much, obey little. ~~Edward Abbey, via Walt Whitman

    by willyr on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 02:02:03 PM PST

  •  So who does have the answer? (6+ / 0-)

    We've all got the problem figured out.  It's the answer that seems to be escaping everyone.

    •  Progressive solutions would work.... (4+ / 0-)

      ....if we could ever try them.

      This is just off the top of my head, so don't jump down my throat if you think I'm wrong.

      We know what a wreck the arms race and the Cold War made of the Soviets.  I think we paid an economic price, too, only it was hidden away in the data.  Add to that the rise of modern conservatism and their decades-long campaign against unions, against any expansion of social programs, and, well, hell, they won that fight.  Social programs began to shrink.

      Then let's factor in our huge military spending over the last forty years.

      And put on top of that the take-over of American health care by the financial industry.

      Lastly, the incredible increase of wealth concentrated in the 1%.  Shit, let's make that the top .1%.  And the monetization of politics, which means the richest in our society punch way above their weight in politics.  This is the other side of the same coin to the decline in real wealth in the middle class.

      We fix it by realizing what people have known since the fifth century BCE, extreme wealth of a few and democracy are at opposition.  One or the other can exist, not both.  We go back to the tax rates of the 1950s.  We reduce by half the defense budget.  We put a major economic price on out-sourcing jobs.  We rebuild the infrastructure of the United States.  We establish single-payer health care.  That's just a start.

      Too radical?  Naw, this is tame stuff, traditional progressive ideas.  I have yet to unleash my socialist soul.

      Please feel free to HR me for my informative and argumentative nature. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

      by rbird on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:39:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have spent a good amoung of time (0+ / 0-)

      researching this.

      If there is a ready answer, I haven't heard it.  More unions?  Great - but no answer if employers move the production elsewhere.  

      I have been writing here about globalization here for 9 years.  In all of that time what amazes me is how little attention is actually given to possible answers.

      In some ways progressives are in denial about this.  There is little doubt increased immigration hurts wages on the bottom of the ladder - but saying that smacks of blaming immigrants.  There is little doubt free trade has played an enourmous role in undermining labor unions.  But saying that for many progressives smacks of "blaming" foriegn workers. Moreover, in the economics profession there is almost unanimous consensus that free trade is good.

      I do not believe that the political system will address the fundemental causes leading to increased inequality, and I believe there is less difference than people think between progressives and conservatives about this.

      Nothing is going to change.  We have decided to make American workers compete in the global labor market place, where most are overpaid.  We never voted on that decision, and most gave precious little thought to the consequences.  If you ask the average person, in my experience many understand this better than the economists who claim to be experts do.  

      The simple truth is the plight of the American worker isn't of much interest to either the left or the right.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:40:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  150% agreed on globalization (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chitown Kev, Palafox

        and my only real gripe with OWS at all is the oversight at this vital issue. Globalization IS a huge part of the problem contributing to economic injustice.

      •  excess labor supply? (0+ / 0-)

        this period rather closely tracks the baby boom entering the labor market. If only the men in that demographic had sought jobs, it would have dramatically increased the labor supply, thereby decreasing the offered wage.

        But women entered the labor market in droves, thus putting more pressure on offered wages, as women entered parts of the labor market in which they had been unlikely to enter in the past.

        With the efforts to undermine union protections, happening at the same time, it's no wonder that wages fell, even if there were no large increase in immigrant labor.

        Immigrants at that time actually improved wage potential for domestic workers, because the latter could seek jobs that offered higher wages, while hiring lower skilled, lower wage workers to replace them at home or in the community (yard work, domestic work, restaurant work, and so forth). That provided a net improvement, but over time, increasing competition in low wage fields.

        In this scenario, I would expect to see increased wages for professional women (doctors, lawyers, etc.) as they entered fields previously closed to them. For instance, the plethora of unemployed professional women (with advanced degrees and no work) in the early 60s were evidence of pent up demand for highly educated women, who previously would have been limited to high school teaching, nursing, and secretarial work. Anecdotes about Justice O'Connor and other women lawyers who could not find jobs upon graduation in the 60s are evidence of this sticky labor market.

        No doubt that job exports to lower wage areas exacerbated the problem over time, but domestic excess labor supply, a demographic challenge, was certainly responsible for some of it.

        "There's nothing serious about a plan that claims to reduce the deficit by spending a trillion dollars on tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires." - President Obama

        by fhcec on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 04:49:44 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Generally, I agree, but I think there are... (0+ / 0-)

        ...many exceptions among the "elite" on the left. Barbara Ehrenreich has certainly proved to interested.
        Gar Alperowitz is another. We are seeking with our focus at DK Labor to spark interest. Laura Clawson is a full-time writer/editor with labor experience who is writing about workers a dozen or more times a week. It's not the whole answer, but it's a step toward dealing with the deficits you speak of.

        The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

        by Meteor Blades on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 07:36:00 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Repeal NAFTA for starters (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Palafox

      and other similar trade agreements and dock employers who outsource. Invest in job creation at the Federal level, with the revenues from ending the wars used toward new jobs, particularly in more sustainable, cheaper energy sources. Slightly increased state taxation (and other taxes) could go a long, long ways toward increasing school funding, particularly with things like Prop 13 ended. Defund MIC/PIC bloat. Decriminalize marijuana and prostitution. End deportation raids. These all contribute to needless spending on inhumane things. A progressive tax makes absolute sense toward generally providing more healthy revenue to the general kitty and should be a goal in our sights.

      There are a million more solutions out there too, but these are so obvious that they immediately spring to mind.

      I'm sure others can contribute much more.  

    •  Part of "the problem" is that it isn't "the" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Meteor Blades, Brooke In Seattle

      problem so much as the result of a lot of problems.

      Some are bigger than others, but they add up to a lot of people out of work or working for too little.

      In information technology alone, you have a double-whammy for older workers:

      Abuse of the H-1B visa program to bring in more and more foreign workers, coupled with age discrimination.

      Add in out-sourcing (which, btw, has not panned out nearly as well as advertised) and older tech workers are just plain screwed.

      How many things have been done in other industries to slam the door in the faces of American workers?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 04:56:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'd been waiting for these numbers (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Marie, Aunt Pat, Matt Z

    Most of the income numbers are per-household and, with the changing composition of households, it makes a strict comparison difficult.

    Thanks for the breakdown.

  •  There are subtler reasons wages are falling - (17+ / 0-)

    for all of us, male and female.  in the 50's and early 60's a man needed to make enough money to support a wife and children, even men without higher levels of education.   Many men learned their skills on the job working as teenagers in gas stations, and all sorts of small businesses who took on apprentices.  Employers accepted that they needed to pay a living wage or they wouldn't have workers.

    When I first went to work, women were expected to quit working when they got married because they would start having children.  Women were hired in at far less than the wages men got because, again, the expectation was that they would eventually marry and quit the labor force and were probably living at home with their parents.  Working after high school or college was a way to find a husband!

    That all changed with the pill.  Women could actually consider a career, maybe not getting married or divorcing their husbands.

    What I never hear discussed and I believe was a big part of the sudden movement of women into the work force was the government wanted it that way.  They had committed to SS and eventually Medicare and women could retire at full benefits at 62, including housewives who had never been in the labor force, they could apply for their husband's benefits.  So we had one wage-earner contributing to Social Security while he, his wife and minor children could all apply for benefits at some point.  By encouraging women to enter the workforce and stay there, you had two contributors to the system, but they could only apply for benefits under one contributor.  They also contributed to the income tax by pushing families into higher tax brackets.  

    Women took jobs at less money than males on all levels.  Women were pretty much grounded to the very bottom rungs of the corporate ladder until the 1972 Supreme Court Ruling on promoting women and minorities.   Big corporations grudgingly started promoting women, but still got them to work for less, women still make about 75% of what their male counterparts make in the same job.  

    Over time, employers have been able to pay men less and push the cost of maintaining a household on to both partners.  Anyway, that's my take, I can remember how the work place was romanticized by the media that encouraged women to be a part of that.  Many women had worked during the war and liked having their own paycheck. Conversely, women are assaulted continually for "trying to have it all" making them feel guilty about child rearing, etc.

    My take is that there has been a concerted effort by corporations to suppress wages for the last 30 years, none of this is accidental.  We are where we are because big business runs the show.      

    •  "They" are smart enough to have (6+ / 0-)

      figured that out and engineered these outcomes.  

      The simpler explanation is that by 1970, and as Richard Wolff has pointed out, the US labor shortage disappeared.  That combined with the dwindling of private sector workers unions that began with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act a couple of decades earlier left nobody to say "foul."

      •  oops -- should be: "They" are NOT smart ..n/t (5+ / 0-)
      •  Also the shift from (0+ / 0-)

        industrial to post-industrial capitalism where labor a less prominent component of production.

        Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

        by a gilas girl on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 01:22:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Unions declined (3+ / 0-)

        because:
        1.  The economy as a whole transitioned to a service based economy, where unions have had trouble getting traction.
        2.  Globalization meant that companies could simply threaten to move production elsewhere
        3.  The increasing preference of American consumers for products made elsewhere.

        The regualtory environment in my reading has not been a large factor in the decline of unions.

        I go to Germany frequently.  People ask me what makes them different.  It's complicated, and there are things the government does that I would copy.  But I don't think those things really explain much of the difference.

        I can count on one hand the number of foriegn cars I have seen on German roads.  Germans buy from Germans.

        Americans have no similar loyatly to each other.  

        The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

        by fladem on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:53:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Diary, please. n/t (5+ / 0-)

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 12:09:54 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  if being able to pay men less is tied to (0+ / 0-)

      women being in the workforce, then it would seem women's wages would rise and this has not happened. Male/female wage disparity has remained constant.

      Part of the problem is the loss of industrial jobs due to technology and off-shoring and the conversion to a service based economy, which have nothing to do with gender

  •  The 1968 minimum wage in (9+ / 0-)

    2010 inflation adjusted dollars would be $10.  Actual $7.25.  When the income floor is lowered, it depresses wages for most workers.

    A 55% lifetime income premium for a college degree sounds about right.  Assuming a high school diploma is worth anything which with our fetish for one-track, college bound high schools is rather silly.l

  •  When two incomes aren't enough, (4+ / 0-)

    the answer is obviously poly!

    Polyamory, polygamy, polyandry = the solution to income dilution.

    The only drawback is, what happens when your marriage is too big to fail?

    /snark

  •  'Centrist solutions don't help with that....... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    'Centrist solutions don't help with that. They never have.'

    It's amazing to watch this all happen in all too real time:

    As the top squirrels it away, the whole thing just goes to hell.

     

    ..squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity...Russell Brand

    by KenBee on Fri Jan 13, 2012 at 11:32:36 PM PST

  •  real wages (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade

    have been declining for many, many years.  Living wages are less and less available.  The world outside those wages has become more and more expensive in terms of the things needed to create a quality of life that lower wages would have provided in earlier generations.

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 01:19:22 PM PST

  •  4 year college degree has been weakening for years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, Egalitare

    Why is there any surprise here that high school and 4 yr college grads gave had declines? Every field is getting increasingly technical and an associate's or B.S/B.A. just isnt what it used to be with grad education playing a greater role. Why are we not measuring masters and doctoral incomes over time as well? Lord knows physician incomes are declining

    •  LGM has a running thread of articles on ROI (0+ / 0-)

      for law school and why it does not make economic sense
      http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/...
      for the most recent entry.
      For a professional career I would suggest well drilling as I paid a local $1200 for a day and half job drilling a 125 ft well (and i got a break on the price since we were former classmates)

    •  Yes, it is curious that Greenstone and Looney... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BMarshall, Egalitare

      ...did include something on this. While the proportion of men graduating for college has not risen appreciably since 1997, there has been a rise in advanced. But to what purpose economically speaking. This applies to British, but I would be surprised if it did not apply here as well:

      PhD graduates do at least earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree. A study in the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management by Bernard Casey shows that British men with a bachelor’s degree earn 14% more than those who could have gone to university but chose not to. The earnings premium for a PhD is 26%. But the premium for a master’s degree, which can be accomplished in as little as one year, is almost as high, at 23%. In some subjects the premium for a PhD vanishes entirely. PhDs in maths and computing, social sciences and languages earn no more than those with master’s degrees. The premium for a PhD is actually smaller than for a master’s degree in engineering and technology, architecture and education. Only in medicine, other sciences, and business and financial studies is it high enough to be worthwhile. Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master’s degree.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:30:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  just goes to show that failure starts at birth (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Egalitare

    when you discover you were not born into the 1%.  Things seem to deteriorate after that

  •  Missing advanced degree part of the puzzle here nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wendy Slammo
  •  The Absolute Truth (0+ / 0-)
    Centrist solutions don't help with that. They never have.

    The ideology of the center is a failure.  The ideology of the right has not failed, because it isn't about the middle class or the sustenance of the nation.  They say it is, but it's not.  Once you see who's behind them, it puts a lie to their words.  Just look at the behavior of the Koch Brothers and you'll know what they really want for us.

    The progressives and the left are the only ones with viable alternatives that will save the American middle class.

    Also, this kinda explains why middle-aged white guys are so pissed off, except they're pissed off at the wrong people.

    Please feel free to HR me for my informative and argumentative nature. 'To know what is right and to do it are two different things.' - Chushingura, a tale of The Forty-Seven Ronin

    by rbird on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:21:15 PM PST

  •  The 1950s were the glories years (0+ / 0-)

    for the un/semi-skilled males largely we bombed our industrial competitors into oblivion in WW2.

    In other words, it was an out-lying and rather temporary situation.

    Now, if we'd just focused our recent wars more wisely (hint, wouldn't China have been a better target?), we could be on the verge of another manufacturing boom.

  •  Another Must Read, 0ver at The Atlantic (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BMarshall, Meteor Blades

    Adam Davidson has an article there on "Making It In America" which looks at how the very nature of manufacturing has changed. (There's also a companion two part series at NPR Morning Edition that aired on Thursday and Friday with interviews with the people in the article.)

    Fewer opportunities doesn't begin to cover it - it's also what's needed to even get a job - and how much harder a good job is to get. Education alone isn't a fix - but it's indispensable now even as it's getting harder to afford. Essentially, it's not just that jobs are getting shipped overseas; there's far fewer of them to go around in any case.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:35:45 PM PST

  •  The Great Conservative Lie (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Brooke In Seattle

    to any member of the American middle class is that there's something they can do such that conservatives aren't coming for them next.

    Conservatives are always coming for all of us, eventually.

    The two things Teabaggers hate most are: being called racists; and black people.

    "It takes balls to execute an innocent man." -- anonymous GOP focus group member on Rick Perry

    by Punditus Maximus on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:40:51 PM PST

  •  We have to go forward with the climate bill. (0+ / 0-)

    There's a solution to a major chunk of our problem there.
    We need to be hiring installers and maintenance men to put solar power on every building in the US.
    Energy efficiency:
    High speed rail. Smart grid, expanded broadband access
    The coming revolution in architecture.
    Preparing our cities for the effects of climate change

  •  To some degree (0+ / 0-)

    I think this was the lie that as women joined the workforce, the pie would increase in size.

    To some degree it did, men have not had their earnings fall in equal proportion to the degree to which women's earnings have risen...the size of the pie has increased some.

    Simply put, the unfair advantage that men had in earnings has fallen, and as a result...men are making less.  This is not all bad.  The moral of the story, is that perhaps PART of what we are seeing is the gradual decline of male privilege.

    That said...at the same time we have seen a dramatic rise in income inequality at the upper rungs...that is, the 1% have absorbed some of the added wealth that two worker households produce.  Today, 2 income households don't make a whole lot more money that 1 income used to make...yet they are almost twice as productive. A good chunk of the added productivity has been taken by the rich, white, male 1%ers.

    In Marxist terms, the 1%ers have been incredibly effective at alienating the labor of men and women as women's productivity has increased total productivity in the economy.

    "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

    by Empty Vessel on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:42:33 PM PST

    •  If we're going to speak of Marx, let's not... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brooke In Seattle

      ...two other pillars, the expropriation and control of the surplus value that is the fruit of that added productivity and the reserve army of the unemployed, which happens to have more in its ranks than previously and does what it always does, holds wages down and strikes fear into those who might like to push for better conditions but don't because they realize they can be easily replaced.

      As for "the gradual decline of male privilege," that may be true among hoi polloi, but I don't think it is happening among hoi oligoi.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 07:48:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There an elephant in this room (2+ / 0-)

    That I didn't read about that needs to be discussed.

    I make no value judgments about it, but it seems to me that it has a huge impact on the chart reported on here.

    In the 1950's, and 60's, men were the sole earners for a family, and most men could earn enough to support the entire family.

    That is mostly not the case any longer. Now that women have taken to working in pretty much equal numbers it has drastically affected family income distribution.

    Now, I'm all for women working. And I have no bone to pick with that, but what I do have a problem with is that dual income family have totally destroyed the ability of a single wage earner of either gender to support a lifestyle similar to what was enjoyed by single wage earners in the 50's and 60's.

    If you want to know why the cost of living has jumped so high, you need look no further. Two wage earners can spend twice as much on the purchase of a house, car, or other high-

    Single earners salaries have always been depressed. I don't think it's just in the movies that the thought "well, he (or she) has a family to support."

    Equal pay for equal work is probably improving. There is certainly more gender equality in pay scales than what used to be. But we still have a ways to go, and it would be nice if all employees could be paid fair value for their work regardless of their gender or family structure.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:44:07 PM PST

  •  The peak was just before Buckley v. Valeo (0+ / 0-)

    which was consciously designed by Nixon appointee Powell on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce to address just this issue

  •  Responding to climate change will create jobs. (0+ / 0-)

    Here's a new post on energy efficiency.
    http://thinkprogress.org/...

  •  Men, (0+ / 0-)

    what a drag on the economy and the nation!

  •  I can attest to this. (0+ / 0-)

    ... between 1987 and 2012.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:50:19 PM PST

  •  Increased automation is a major issue. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empty Vessel, mahakali overdrive

    Advancements in technology lead to increased automation, which lessens the number a man-hours required to do a given task.  That is a real issue.

    For example, in the 30's the government could decide to build a 10 mile road somewhere, and that would employ hundreds of men for months.  Today the same task would employ only a dozen people or so for just a few weeks.  The pay rate of those dozen people would likely be higher than the pay rate of the hundreds of people the task would employ in the 1930's, but if you normalize the pay rate to say, wages per 100 people, the pay rate would be less today, simply because only only a dozen people would gettting paid for the task (the other 88 people out of the normalized 100 people would get zero, since they aren't employed at all for the task).

    This is an issue that doesn't have an evil bogey man to blame.  It's just the way it is.  We are currently on a path towards the ultimate "dream" of having machines do everything and man do nothing but leisure, education, arts/entertainment, exploration, and research; or other tasks, but tasks of choice rather than necessity.   But our economic model is not based on that.  It's based on people doing everything and machines doing nothing.  As machines do more and more, fewer and fewer man-hours will be required to do things, which makes the wages per capita ratio decrease.  That's just simple math.  The econmic system will have to be adjusted to take account of increased automation.  The problem is only going to exacerbate as time goes on.

    •  Not to disagree too much (0+ / 0-)

      But there is another option, one that I think is done more often than we would like to admit.

      Using your road example...rather than build the same 10 miles with 10 rather than 100 people...we could build 100 miles of road with the same number of people.

      That is...technology allows us to more quickly and efficiently pave paradise and put up a parking lot.

      My guess is that the truth lies between my and your position.  That is, 50 people are employed to overbuild and destroy resources at ever increasing rates...while the other 50 are left to starve.

      "Empty vessels make the loudest sound, they have the least wit and are the greatest blabbers" Plato

      by Empty Vessel on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 02:58:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  In terms of College educated people (5+ / 0-)

    not able to find jobs, this is simple.

    1. Because the economy is horrible, more people are enrolling in college to get a BA. Therefore, there are a glut of college educated people competing for jobs.

    2. Because there are a glut of college educated people competing for jobs, employers are being extremely choosy about peoples' education. Many are asking for college transcripts and hiring based on WHERE someone attended, their GPA, and that kind of criterion.

    3. Because college is not really suited for some students (I know this is a contentious belief; as a college educator, I stand by it -- vocational work would be more compatible with tons of incoming students who don't want to be in college), many strongly underperform, maybe dragging by with C's or D's even when Professors are accommodating.

    This then contributes to reduced GPA's or graduating from College in the lower ranges which often correlates to doing poorly on job applications or job-required testing. I know that to be statistically true with written tests.

    There was just a study out recently showing that Businesses have never been more unhappy with the caliber of critical thinking and the quality of work that new college grads demonstrate. That's no surprise to me. I work with these students. They aren't doing so well in college either. While we can go above and beyond to teach people, when students are unhappy or just not cut out for "a life of the mind," that's going to reflect.

    So what do educators at this level tend to do? Grade inflate to pass the students who are struggling to get through. If students are getting F's, a lot of them, it reflects poorly on us. So these students often get D's. Plain and simple fact. And admin crack down more sharply on instructors who don't pass as many students through, period. You can be denied tenure for poor student evaluations. Guess who gives poor student evals? 95% of the time, they come from students who are performing poorly. Great system, right? So grade inflation is also a tactic to keep jobs.

    It's a vicious cycle, all of it, in a bad economy when employers require BA's and are choosy, and yet there aren't good vocational programs for less academically-inclined students (which is 100% fine! Other than the lack of jobs all around).

    We know that it really takes an MA to get a BA level job right now, and even then, there is basic job scarcity. However, Universities are not very honest with students about this.

    •  Also... (5+ / 0-)
      But, no offense intended, have the authors looked recently at what's happening to many community colleges these days? Increased tuition, increased class sizes, fewer class offerings, and the hiring of more adjunct professors making less money are not exactly conducive to raising skills.

      Same at 4-year public colleges, not just community colleges.

      And that is another thing about this student education issue, as you bring up and rightly so, increased class sizes KILL good teaching. Make it just about impossible. So does increased tuition, since you have students working while in College, and unable to focus on classes. Adjuncts are totally exploited and feel it, and Professors equally feel it, although I feel both are competent teachers (they can be equally good and equally bad for different reasons). But it sets up a big labor exploitation gambit for the University.

      Then again, there are very, very few jobs for Ph.D. students too out there. Many wind up taking Adjunct Positions nowadays rather than the traditional tenure-line faculty jobs. That's due to Universities cutting programs and Departments outright, or defunding and neutering them.

    •  Just one quibble: There may be a glut but... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mahakali overdrive

      ...men are enrolling at the same percentage in college as they were 35 years ago.

      I agree otherwise.

      The surest way to predict the future is to invent it. — Stephen Post. [Me at Twitter.]

      by Meteor Blades on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 07:53:35 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's interesting (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Meteor Blades

        I didn't know that. It may be particular to my area or even my University. I know that we're accepting a record low number of applicants, at any rate (about one in ten, which is staggering; a few years ago, it was one in four). I can't remember if that's Uni-wide or just in my Dept, but it's not good either way. If in my Dept alone, it would be due to budgetary restrictions.

        I think last year we had a record number of incoming freshmen as well. However, that may be due to other factors, like that other Universities are accepting fewer students or raising tuition.

        So my view here could be a bit restricted regionally, no doubt. We're in the epicenter of a lot of cuts, slashes, and general hard hits. It's only getting worse, Meteor Blades. I got an email a few weeks ago about it which was really bad, from the union. About Jerry Brown not putting the tax measure on the ballot, or something to that affect. Anticipated result will be more Departments cut statewide and possibly more Universities actually shut down, as well as tuition increases. I'm watching that with some disgust. We cannot -- CANNOT -- afford this level of austerity at all. Departments are resorting to high levels of privatized fund raising now, which of course only has a lot of associated problems as well.

  •  This would be deeply disturbing to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev, Egalitare

    even if it were something I observed from a distance. Of course I am doubly troubled since I am so much a part of this trend. As a college educated man, I have never made a lot of money, though I did pretty well, probably above the national average, from the mid-90s through 2002. In reality, I have only made the kind of money that could support a family for about one out of five of my 25 post-college years Part of that was slackerism perhaps, but a bigger part is just the lack of opportunity.

    My dad never finished college and made a far better living than I when adjusted for inflation.

    Republican, Scott Walker, recall, collective bargaining, AFSCME, WEAC, rally, union, Alberta Darling, Randy Hopper, Dan Kapanke, Rob Cowles, Scott Fitzgerald, Sheila Harsdorf, Luther Olsen, Glenn Grothman, Mary Lazich, Jeff Fitzgerald, Marty Beil, or

    by pHunbalanced on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 03:02:28 PM PST

  •  The kettle simmers quietly before boiling over. (0+ / 0-)

    Wait until warmer weather -- this will not stand.

    GOP = Greedy One Percent

    by Palafox on Sat Jan 14, 2012 at 03:55:22 PM PST

  •  This also reflects on.... (0+ / 0-)

    the housing market. Directly. Because historically people can afford a home that's worth about 3 times their annual salary. All other increases in real estate values are bubble-driven because the only sustainable numbers seem to be about 3 times your annual salary.

    Ergo, housing bubble goes poof and unless and until wages start to rise there can be no meaningful appreciation in the housing market.

    This is pretty basic and simple stuff, yet there aren't a lot of people around who seem to get it.

  •  Less Pay vs Less Work (0+ / 0-)

    I'm confused by the article about how much of the drop is from less pay vs less work.
    The graph in the middle seems to show that among men working full time there's a wiggly stagnation, but among "all men" the effective wages have gone down. The top chart says there's a 20% drop in real wages and a 16% drop in the number of men working full time, so not being employed full time seems to be the problem.
    If unemployment and underemployment are the problems, I'm inclined towards jobs programs putting people to work building and repairing public works.

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