By Lynn Stuart Parramore, AlterNet, 4/23/14
America’s rich are surging ahead, but the rest are falling behind. What happened?
Fancy living up in Canada? Granted, it’s a bit chilly. But the middle class up there has just blown by the U.S. as the world’s most affluent. America’s wealthy are leaping ahead of the rest of much of the globe, but the middle class is falling behind. So are the poor. That’s the sobering news from the latest research put out by LIS, a group based in Luxembourg and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
After taxes, the Canadian middle class now has a higher income than its American counterpart. And many European countries are closing in on us. Median incomes in Western European countries are still a bit lower than those of the U.S., but the gap in several countries, including the Netherlands, Sweden and Britain, is significantly smaller than it was a decade ago. However, if you take into account the cost of things like education, retirement and healthcare in America, those European countries’ middle classes are in much better shape than ours because the U.S. government does not provide as much for its citizens in these areas. So the income you get has to be saved for these items.
The report found also found that the median U.S. income, which stands at $18,700, has remained about the same since 2000. And it found that the poor in much of Europe earn more than poor Americans.
So what does Canada have that the U.S. doesn’t have? Well, it has universal healthcare, for one thing. And more unions. And a better social safety net. Ditto with the European countries whose middle classes are better off than ours when you take into account government services.
The LIS researchers found that American families are paying a steep price for high and rising income inequality. Our growth is on par with many other countries, but our middle class and poor aren’t really getting much out of it.
Things have been going downhill for the middle class since 1990, the report shows. Remember anything that got started in those years? Ah, yes! Deregulation….
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