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see also

Things I notice:

  • teachers and nurses are not low earners. that would be cooks, cashiers, janitors, customer service reps, secretaries, housekeepers, and teachers’ & nurses’ aides. And the people who are “below” those job-titles, as well.
  • "confidence intervals": if you click on any job-title in the NPR link, it highlights all occurrences of that job-title in yellow. Some job titles span wide across several income categories (truck drivers, sales supervisors) whereas others (software developers) are more concentrated/narrow in quantile.
  • vagueness of data: Data data data. Data. By the way, did I mention data? There’s a lot of it, you know. But check it out: measurement entails the creation of categories and sometimes those categories are so vague that “sales supervisor” shows up in the $12k–$26k level, whilst “salesperson” shows up in the $207k+ category. Wait, aren’t the supervisors supervising those salespersons? Turns out, “salespersons” show up ≥ “sales supervisors”, who show up ≥ “sales”. Oops.
  • histogram: look at the distance between incomes for each (constant-size) decile bracket. +12, +9, +5, +8, +8, +10, +14, +31, +104, +∞. This matches Catherine Mulbrandon’s picture:


    where the latter leaps capture the convexity of US earning power.
  • jobs you can just get: Many of the dark-teal jobs are ones with a low barrier to entry. I call these “private-sector welfare”. The jobs that, if able-bodied I found myself unemployed and needed money, I could apply and believe that I actually have a chance of being hired—as opposed to the less-than-1% response rate from sending CV’s to large corporations for salaried office work.
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Infographic: Why we need to raise minimum wage

Some people argue raising the minimum wage will only help a few million teenagers, but this is not true. One in four Americans in the private sector makes less than the $10.10 an hour proposed by President Obama. An increased minimum wage would benefit breadwinners, including more than 70% of government contract employees and 17 million total workers by 2016 according to the economic study.

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(images via The Huffington Post/Restaurant Opportunities Center United)

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Each year we spend billions of dollars subsidizing profits at large international corporations because they refuse to pay their workers a living wage. It is not fair that taxpayers are footing the bill because these companies’ full-time workers are paid poverty wages and require public assistance just to be able to afford their rent and feed their families.

If these corporations won’t take action, then we will fight for their workers. Click here to tell Congress to raise the minimum wage: http://afsc.me/1nJkgBK

The Great U-Turn

Do you recall a time in America when the income of a single school teacher or baker or salesman or mechanic was enough to buy a home, have two cars, and raise a family? 

I remember. My father (who just celebrated his 100th birthday) earned enough for the rest of us to live comfortably. We weren’t rich but never felt poor, and our standard of living rose steadily through the 1950s and 1960s. 

That used to be the norm. For three decades after World War II, America created the largest middle class the world had ever seen. During those years the earnings of the typical American worker doubled, just as the size of the American economy doubled. (Over the last thirty years, by contrast, the size of the economy doubled again but the earnings of the typical American went nowhere.)  

In that earlier period, more than a third of all workers belonged to a trade union — giving average workers the bargaining power necessary to get a large and growing share of the large and growing economic pie. (Now, fewer than 7 percent of private-sector workers are unionized.) 

Then, CEO pay then averaged about 20 times the pay of their typical worker (now it’s over 200 times). 

In those years, the richest 1 percent took home 9 to 10 percent of total income (today the top 1 percent gets more than 20 percent). 

Then, the tax rate on highest-income Americans never fell below 70 percent; under Dwight Eisenhower, a Republican, it was 91 percent. (Today the top tax rate is 39.6 percent.)

In those decades, tax revenues from the wealthy and the growing middle class were used to build the largest infrastructure project in our history, the Interstate Highway system. And to build the world’s largest and best system of free public education, and dramatically expand public higher education. (Since then, our infrastructure has been collapsing from deferred maintenance, our public schools have deteriorated, and higher education has become unaffordable to many.)

We didn’t stop there. We enacted the Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act to extend prosperity and participation to African-Americans; Medicare and Medicaid to provide health care to the poor and reduce poverty among America’s seniors; and the Environmental Protection Act to help save our planet. 

And we made sure banking was boring. 

It was a virtuous cycle. As the economy grew, we prospered together. And that broad-based prosperity enabled us to invest in our future, creating more and better jobs and a higher standard of living.  

Then came the great U-turn, and for the last thirty years we’ve been heading in the opposite direction. 

Why?

Some blame globalization and the loss of America’s  manufacturing core. Others point to new technologies that replaced routine jobs with automated machinery, software, and robotics. 

But if these were the culprits, they only raise a deeper question: Why didn’t we share the gains from globalization and technological advances more broadly? Why didn’t we invest them in superb schools, higher skills, a world-class infrastructure?

Others blame Ronald Reagan’s worship of the so-called “free market,” supply-side economics, and deregulation. But if these were responsible, why did we cling to these ideas for so long? Why are so many people still clinging to them? 

Some others believe Americans became greedier and more selfish. But if that’s the explanation, why did our national character change so dramatically? 

Perhaps the real problem is we forgot what we once achieved together. 

The collective erasure of the memory of that prior system of broad-based prosperity is due partly to the failure of my generation to retain and pass on the values on which that system was based. It can also be understood as the greatest propaganda victory radical conservatism ever won.

We must restore our recollection. In seeking to repair what is broken, we don’t have to emulate another nation. We have only to emulate what we once had.

That we once achieved broad-based prosperity means we can achieve it again — not exactly the same way, of course, but in a new way fit for the twenty-first century and for future generations of Americans. 

America’s great U-turn can be reversed. It is worth the fight.

Here’s everything women could buy without the wage gap

By now, you’ve probably heard depressing statistics like this one: For every dollar a man earns, a woman makes 77 cents. You might even be sick of hearing it. But here’s another way of thinking about it: If you add all those pennies up, the gender gap will cost the average American woman more than $400,000 over the course of her professional life.

Even the useful 77 cents-to-the-dollar statistic is partially misleading because it looks at the median earnings of all full-time employed women against the earnings of full-time employed white men, leaving race and ethnicity out of the equation. Here’s the granular breakdown. White men in the United States make:

  • 47% more than Hispanic and Latina women
  • 40% more than American-Indian and Alaskan Native women
  • 36% more than African-American women
  • 34% more than Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander women
  • 21% more than white women and
  • 13% more than Asian women.

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just to elaborate what i was saying before, there is a huge difference between approaching commissions as a hobbyist and as a professional. there is a huge difference between using commissions to get a little extra spending money in addition to what you get from your job or your allowance or what have you and using commissions as your primary or only source of income.  

if you have a job, then you can already pay for most of your living expenses.  if you have an allowance, then your parents are paying for those things.  if you are an independent, unemployed or self employed artist, then suddenly $10 for a commission is nothing.  $10 buys you a coffee and a sandwich at starbucks. $10 covers about a week’s worth of food for your cat. $10 does not come anywhere near paying for rent or groceries or utilities.

one of the most difficult parts about living in a culture where art is not only undervalued but also othered (the common phrases “anyone can make art” and “making art is not useful” respectively) is that we create an atmosphere that simultaneously justifies underpricing artwork and shames people who approach art as a business: “art can by done by anyone. therefor, it is not worth anything” and “normal people do not do art. normal people get normal, practical jobs like accounting or secretarial work that pay normal wages. therefor, being an artist cannot be a normal job and cannot be approached with the same logic that you would use when considering real jobs.”

these are both very harmful mindsets.  i approach my freelance work as a business because that is what it is.  i’m not swimming in riches or topping off some already existing salary or allowance.  unfortunately, there will always be people who think i should charge as if art is my hobby and not my way of living.

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THE WAR ON THE POOR AND MIDDLE-CLASS FAMILIES

Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median household pay is dropping, adjusted for inflation. A smaller share of working-age Americans are in jobs than at any time in the last three decades.

Only 113,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy in January, on top of a paltry 75,000 in December.

We need a new WPA to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, a higher minimum wage, strong unions, investments in education, and extended unemployment benefits for those who still can’t find a job. When 95% of the economic gains go to the top 1%, the middle class and poor don’t have the purchasing power to keep it going.

Yet too many still believe in trickle-down economics — that the wealthy are the job creators, and tax cuts for big corporations and the rich will boost the economy. The real job creators are the vast middle class and the poor — when they have enough money in their pockets. That’s the only way out of the vicious cycle we’re now in.

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