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At Least Half Of Americans Are Broke

"Happy Monday! S&P 500 now up 10% for year" —CNN Money
"Third-quarter U.S. economic growth strongest in 11 years" —Reuters
"The U.S. economy is on a tear" —Wall Street Journal
The Contributor, 2/16/15

Half of our nation, by all reasonable estimates of human need, is in poverty. The jubilant headlines above speak for people whose view is distorted by growing financial wealth. The argument for a barely surviving half of America has been made before, but important new data is available to strengthen the case.

1. No Money for Unexpected Bills

A recent Bankrate poll found that almost two-thirds of Americans didn't have savings available to cover a $500 repair bill or a $1,000 emergency room visit.

A related Pew survey concluded that over half of U.S. households have less than one month's income in readily available savings, and that ALL their savings -- including retirement funds -- amounted to only about four months of income.

And young adults? A negative savings rate, as reported by the Wall Street Journal. Before the recession their savings rate was a reasonably healthy 5 percent.

2. 40 Percent Collapse in Household Wealth

Over half of Americans have good reason to feel poor. Between 2007 and 2013 median wealth dropped a shocking 40 percent, leaving the poorest half with negative wealth (because of debt), and a full 60% of households owning, in total, about as much as the nation's 94 richest individuals.

People of color fare the worst, with half of black households owning less than $11,000 in total wealth, and Hispanic households less than $14,000. The median net worth for white households is about $142,000.

3. Cost of Living Surges as Income Falls

Official poverty measures are based largely on the food costs of the 1950s. But food costs have doubled since 1978, housing has more than tripled, and college tuition is eleven times higher. The cost of raising a child increased by 40 percent between 2000 and 2010. And despite the gains from Obamacare, health care expenses continue to grow.

As all these essential costs have been going up, median household income has been going down since 2000, with the greatest drop occurring since 2009, as 95 percent of the post-recession income gains have gone to the richest 1%.

4. Lots of New Jobs (Below Living Wage)

"'Amazing' jobs report, apart from wages" —Marketwatch

Amazing at the top and at the bottom. According to the Federal Reserve Bank, there have been job gains at the highest paid level -- engineering, finance, computer analysis; and there have been job gains at the lowest paid level -- personal health care, retail, and food preparation.

But the jobs that kept the middle class out of poverty -- education, construction, social services, transportation, administration -- have seen a decline since the recession, especially in the northeast. At a national level jobs gained are paying 23 percent less than jobs lost.

Worse yet, the lowest paid workers, those in housekeeping and home health care and food service, have seen their wages drop 6 to 8 percent (although wages overall rose about 2 percent in 2014).

5. Our Greatest Shame: Half of the Children Feeling Poverty

Over half of public school students are poor enough to qualify for lunch subsidies. There's been a stunning 70 percent increase since the recession in the number of children on food stamps. State of Working America reported that almost half of black children under the age of six are living in poverty.

The celebratory quotes about a booming economy seem so far away.

New Evidence that Half of America is Broke 16.Feb.2015 22:33

by Paul Buchheit

Published on Monday, February 09, 2015 by Common Dreams

your government takes half of your wages in taxes. 16.Feb.2015 22:40


State income taxes
Federal Income taxes.
Sales taxes on money that has already been taxed once during the income tax like
property taxes(if you rent its added in, somebody has to pay those taxes, and that somebody is you).

Hiking the minimum wage is a silly way to take care of the problem. It just raising the prices of everything you buy and you are back where you started minus the fed/state benefits because you are now in a higher income bracket.

Its a lifestyle choice, not poverty. 16.Feb.2015 22:44


Your grandparents didn't blow money on iPods,iPhones, big screen TVs,
second cars with leather seats, high speed internet, cable TV, play-stations,
storage rooms to save all the crap that won't fit in the 4 bedroom 3 bath new home,
RVs, 4 Wheelers, trips to Maui, multiple monthly restaurant outings, etc.

Your Grandparents saved their money and in 2015 I know professionals who do the same thing.
They don't live like ted kaczynski or grizzly adams in a cave, they live normal lives, but don't
piss their money away on crap.

Americans trade their futures of their own free will, not out of poverty.

Paul 16.Feb.2015 22:45


thats an opinion, not evidence.

(Below Living Wage) 16.Feb.2015 22:49


this is an oxy-moron.

If it was truly below a living wage, then those workers wouldn't be living , they would be dead.

If you mean they have to be supported by some sort of government food stamps, welfare, ebt, then ok.

However if they were making $15 they wouldn't qualify for most if not all of those government programs.

Yeah You Got The Original Message 16.Feb.2015 22:59


I do as best I can.

Making Others Hungry Is A Force Makes You Real? 16.Feb.2015 23:07



blues 17.Feb.2015 05:01


Making Others Hungry?

I see you attended the Drama Straw Man seminar.

If you live in the United States there is no excuse to be hungry, unless you are on a diet. The government as a butt load of programs to feed people.

STanding on the corner dressed like a homeless person with a sign that says "Homeless please help" gains you in some areas more take home pay than a college professor.

Your not bullshitting anybody here. We know the scam.. Please move your straw man to another corner..

Dear Workerbees 17.Feb.2015 05:07


Please get rid of these scum.

No respect for the poor.

blues 17.Feb.2015 05:23


I respect the poor.

I also have no respect for people who purposely making themselves poor by blowing their paychecks on crap, then moo about how ruff they have it and how its somebody else's job to take care of them. Thats what a 6 year old does with his weekly allowance.

We are talking about Americans. The Richest poor in the world.

Sociopaths Have No Respect 17.Feb.2015 05:31


It's not all that hard to figure out.

blues 17.Feb.2015 06:26


Please defend your statements in a rational, balanced non judgmental way.

If you are incapable or not prepared to do this, then perhaps you shouldn't be posting them.

Going all thought-Nazi and crying for disappearing a counter idea is not the answer you are looking for. it never works in a free society.

For some, poverty IS a lifestyle CHOICE 17.Feb.2015 08:19


The benefits of CHOOSING to depend on others are tremendous - free time and leisure.

Many people CHOOSE to not save money - saving money actually hurts the economy.

Many people were allowed to, and CHOOSE to take out home loans which they could not afford.

Many people CHOOSE to accept benefits for which they are not entitled - this is done by misrepresenting themselves to public and private agencies. These CHOICES hurt people who truly do need assistance.

Many people grew up in a hand-to-mouth household where money hard earned money is often spent without regard the so-called rainy day - those people CHOOSE to repeat those habits and set a bad example for their children.

CHOICES - People like blues want many to believe you are a victim and have no choice and wants everyone to equally miserable.

>>> BTW, has anyone noticed how often blues requests that opposing opinions be removed from these comment threads (and resorts to name calling)?

Poverty Is A Lifestyle Choice 17.Feb.2015 09:55


Yeah. Like they chose to be poor.

Yeah. I'm gonna go on the poor side. This is my choice.

Of course. How else could it be?

blues. 17.Feb.2015 10:18


Again, you fail or resist to defend your position with facts, just straw men armies of rhetoric.

Before I begin, let me say, that each homeless/begger/etc. person who asks me for money, I tell them I will buy them food instead. Rarely, and I mean I can count on one had the number of times I've been taken up on the offer, and I ALWAYS honor my offer and sit down with them and eat with. The hundreds of other times they either say no thanks or cuss me out. Because, they want money for drugs, or they know that begging is worth about $20 to $30 in the time I will take them and feed them my charity cheeseburger from McDonalds. (BTW, if you turn your nose up at the cheeseburger, you aren't truly hungry, I've had to eat crickets before to not to be hungry, when in the Marines).

Now, blues lets examine your being poor is not a choice assertion.

2 Identical twins. (Tom and Tony).
Both get average grades in grade school, and both are of average intelligence.
Both come from the same background, same parents, same house, neighborhood, same age etc.

Tom decides he wants to better himself. He looks in the newspaper/online for who is hiring and notices lots of adds for Electricians.
Tony decides he wants to help people and goes to college to become a counselor.

2 years after trade school, and a few years a journeymen electrician, Tom is making $70,000 plus benefits.

Tony, during his senior year begins to look at his job prospects as a counselor, and they are not too good.
Tony finds out that the pay rate for someone with a bachelor's degree as a counselor is not much better than minimum wage, and even then there aren't many job openings.

Tony, tells his brother Tom, hey! this isn't fair! Just because I don't like math, doesn't mean I should be limited in my economic status! Tom tells Tony, I don't care for math either but it was a necessary evil in getting trained as an electrician.

30 years later Tony has caught up to where his brother Tom's salary was 30 years earlier, and Tom owns his own electrical service shop, and is his own boss. Tom works hard, nights and some weekends to do well. Tony, works hard as a counselor nights and weekends just to make ends meet.

People make lifestyle and career choices that reflect on their ability to earn an income.

blues, what choice did you make?

anon 17.Feb.2015 10:24


very good points.

its much easier to play the drama victim than to fix the problem.

I Chose To Be Great 17.Feb.2015 10:26


You chose to be an asshole.

It's actually okay to be an asshole.

Just not so in public, y'know?

great at what? 17.Feb.2015 10:51

jj (the asshole).

I as most readers here will consider this your capitulation in that you are only capable of name calling, and not defending your indefensible assertion above. Not that its your fault. F. Lee Bailey could not defend such assertions with a straight face.

You might want to reconsider posting these types of assertions if they are indefensible.

one other thought, I might be an asshole, in fact I'm pretty sure I am. So, how does it feel to lose to an asshole? (wasn't even a contest).

You Are Surely An Asshole 17.Feb.2015 11:02


I don't need second order logic to do this job. Just Take Black Sabbath for example:
Black sabbath - War Pigs - with lyrics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OGPD0ZBiMs0

how touching. 17.Feb.2015 11:11


from now on, whenever I hear War Pigs, I'll think of you.

So, which is worse, to be an asshole, or the self hating loser who was bested by the asshole?

LOL! 17.Feb.2015 11:12


Oh this thread is too much!

Blues, brother, quit while your ahead...

I've Always Been A Head 17.Feb.2015 11:17


So how would I know when to quit?