War on workers’ rights sending millions of Americans into poverty

Today brought more bad news for those who believe in the American Dream. According to the Census Bureau, the poverty rate in the United States has risen to its highest point since 1983.

The Bureau’s report, which can be read here, includes a number of sobering figures:

  • Over 46 million Americans are living in poverty, a poverty rate of 15.1 percent, or one in every six people.
  • The poverty rate is now the highest recorded since 1983.
  • Relatedly, incomes continue to drop, with the median American income plunging 2.3% between 2009 and 2010.

With 46 million living in poverty – a number equal to the populations of California and Florida combined – it is clear that the middle class is in trouble. As we noted earlier this summer, thanks to skyrocketing CEO pay and policies that favor the top one percent, inequality levels in the United States are now at a Third World level, comparable to nations like Cameroon, Uganda, and Jamaica.

As a recent study by professors Jake Rosenfeld and Bruce Western published in the American Sociological Review points out, the rise in inequality and the drop in wages have coincided with a decline in unionization. Years of broken labor law and the rise of unionbusting consultants have taken their toll on the workplace, leaving workers with bottom of the barrel wages. (For more on Rosenfeld and Western’s study, click here.)

As Western, a professor at Harvard University, notes, “In the early 1970s, unions were important for delivering middle class incomes to working class families, and they enlivened politics by speaking out against inequality. These days, there just aren’t big institutional actors who are making the case for greater economic equality in America.”

Today’s poverty numbers plainly show that the Walmartization of America has had drastic consequences. But the fight isn’t over. This summer, workers have won important victories at IKEA and T-Mobile. Verizon and Hyatt employees are standing up for fair deals. We have to decide how our country is going to turn things around. We think it begins with giving working women and men a voice on the job and a real opportunity to earn family-supporting wages.

*Graphic courtesy of Think Progress

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 13th, 2011 at 2:16 pm and is filed under General, Jobs. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “War on workers’ rights sending millions of Americans into poverty”

  1. [...] A substantial minority of reports on the poverty report took the low road of rounding the fraction in the direction of their slant on the story. Some reports just went with “one in six,” including people on the political left who may be inclined to enlarge the problem, such as Democracy Now and the labor site American Rights at Work. [...]

  2. [...] A substantial minority of reports on the poverty report took the low road of rounding the fraction in the direction of their slant on the story. Some reports just went with “one in six,” including people on the political left who may be inclined to enlarge the problem, such as Democracy Now and the labor site American Rights at Work. [...]

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  4. Vic says:

    How is 46 million a slant? wth. a slant in the Wrong direction for America.

  5. Lee Hanify says:

    Thanks-a-mundo for the blog article.Really looking forward to read more. Great.

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