WAGE DISPARITY AND THE SHRINKING MIDDLE CLASS

#WageDisparity #MiddleClass #WageGapBetweenWealthiestAndRest #IncomeGrowth
A Pew Research study says middle-income Americans have fared worse in many ways than their counterparts in Western Europe in recent decades.
Meanwhile, business writer Rex Huppke of the Chicago Tribune says the wage gap between the richest and the poorest is jaw-dropping, and that CEOs are going to have to deal with the problem sooner or later.
Nelson D. Schwartz wrote about the Pew Research study on the middle class for The New York Times. His article was published May 29, 2017, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Huppke’s article about wage disparity was published May 28, 2017, in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Schwartz’s article talks about a man in Gillespie, Ill., whom his neighbors consider lucky. After a year out of work, he found another job making cardboard boxes that pays him $19.60 an hour. The steel-mill job he lost paid $28 an hour.
“The middle class is struggling for sure, and almost anybody in my position will tell you that,” Schwartz quotes Gillespie.
The reporter points out that although the U.S. has a higher median income than Europe’s, the Europeans are catching up. Median incomes in the middle tier grew 9 percent between 1991 and 2010, compared with a 25 percent growth in Denmark and 35 percent in Great Britain, Schwartz writes.
That kind of U.S. growth only widens the wage gap between the wealthiest and the rest.
Data collected by the AFL-CIO show the average pay for an S&P 500 CEO last year was $13.1 million. That’s 347 times the average American worker’s pay, Huppke quotes the labor union’s study. Meanwhile, online jobs review site Glass-door says the CEOs only made 205 times more than average workers at their companies, Huppke writes.
In other words, pay for the honchos growing and pay for the working stiffs is shrinking.
Why should the CEOs care?
“Ignoring this disparity is as short-sighted as it is counterproductive for the future health of an organization,” Huppke writes. “They’ll (CEOs) will hear a lot less complaining about their giant paychecks if they find a way to grow everyone else’s as well,” Huppke writes.
Believe it or not, the news is not all bad for the working stiffs. There are plenty of ways for any person, from any background or education, to raise his income – perhaps not at the job he is working at now.
The key is to be open to looking at such ways openly, and be willing to do something you may not have ever done. As a bonus, you’ll have a way to help others prosper, too. To check out one of the best such vehicles, message me.
As another aside, many CEOs are going to scratch their heads in wonder why fewer folks are buying their products. Perhaps your customers have been forced to spend less because their pay keeps shrinking. People work for you, but can’t afford to buy what they help make. Certainly, some of that is inevitable, but if a company makes an affordable, everyday product, the folks that make it should be able to afford to buy it.
It will take work to fix the problems of income disparity and the shrinking middle class. Perhaps the powers that be will get the message and fix it, but it would be more prudent for each person to take matters into his own hands. It can be done, if you have the desire to change and better yourself.
Peter

MIDDLE CLASS DECLINING IN MANY METRO AREAS

#MiddleClass #MedianIncome #population
“The widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle.”
So writes Christopher Rugaber of the Associated Press. His article was published in the May 12, 2016, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Rugaber based his article on a Pew Research Center analysis and report. Pew defines the middle class as households with incomes between two-thirds and twice the median income, adjusted for household size and local cost of living, according to Rugaber’s article.
Middle-class adults now make up less than half the population in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston.
“(The shrinking of the middle class) has increased the polarization of incomes,” Rugaber quotes Rakesh Kochhar, associate research director at Pew and lead author of the report.
Nationally, the proportion of middle class adults shrank to 51 percent in 2014 from 55 percent in 2000, Rugaber quotes the report. Upper-income adults now constitute 20 percent of the population, up from 17 percent. The lower-income share has risen to 29 percent from 28 percent, the article says.
So what happened? People who lost jobs in the Great Recession, if they have found new ones, are now working for less money. The article tells of a Detroit man, age 52, who was earning $28 an hour as a factory worker, but now works for $17 an hour in another company’s shipping department.
That’s pretty close to half of his salary gone.
The good jobs that had been available, whether unionized or not, are disappearing. Make no mistake. Regardless of how you feel about labor unions, they helped build the middle class. As their power wanes, so does the middle class. Many of those who rail against unions today either once belonged to a union, or had a close family member who did. Many today have unions to thank for whatever life they have built or inherited.
Not only have people lost good jobs only to take lesser paying ones, many have lost good benefits. What their good jobs used to pay for, i.e. health insurance, their new jobs probably do not.
So many are making less, and paying more out of pocket for life’s necessities. Fortunately for them, the price of oil has dropped significantly, so they are saving lots at the pump.
It’s easy to look at the downside of a shrinking middle class. But let’s check out the reverse: some people are actually making more than middle-class wages.
That could be the result of one of several things. Some may be getting highly educated, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Skills in those areas can bring someone a big-paying job.
Still, companies often have to look outside the United States to find people with those skills. Apparently, America is not producing those highly educated people in large numbers.
Some could be boosting their net worth by investing well in the markets. One could start relatively poor, save a little each week out of his meager paycheck, put it away and watch it grow. Then, that person must stay disciplined enough to manage it, but not touch it, until his or her elder years.
Finally, there are ways other than a traditional job that one can earn extra income. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll see people who started in a variety of financial positions – low, middle or high income – and worked part time on something that made them a fortune. There are no guarantees, of course, but a few people saw something special and worked with it.
The lesson here is that to improve one’s financial position, he may have to look for something that may not be readily apparent. Stick with a job, even a lower-paying one, if you must, but always be on the lookout for something better. There are good things out there for those who look for them.
Peter

WHAT TO DO WITH LOTS OF MONEY: PART 3

#thinklikearichperson
You’ve done OK in life, but you still dream of something better.
So, you play the lottery.
You know the odds are not in your favor, but you can’t win if you don’t play, right?
If you think like a rich person, as author Steve Siebold suggests, you would take the money you spend in lottery tickets and put it into an investment that will multiply over time. In other words, you’ll get rich slowly.
Then, there’s the matter of what you would do with the money if it were suddenly in your possession. If you think like a “middle class” person, as Siebold categorizes it, you would come up with ways to SPEND your newfound fortune. If you thought like a rich person, you would find ways to INVEST your newfound fortune.
The message here is that if you think like a middle-class person, your fortune will disappear relatively quickly. It seems ridiculous, at least to those who think like a rich person, that ANYONE could be given that kind of money and not make it last through his lifetime, and the lifetimes of his descendants or heirs.
You see, thinking like a rich person, you would take your windfall, place it in appropriate investments and spend SOME of the dividends, interest and capital gains. The rest of the gains would be reinvested.
If you think like a middle-class person, your instinct might be to give some of your fortune to your friends, so they can SPEND like they have never spent before. That might make you feel like a really good person.
But, if you think like a rich person, your first instinct might be to give some to reputable charities. You might give some to your family. But the only way you would give money to your friends is if your friends had good investments that you could get in on. You would probably never give money to friends to spend, knowing they would not spend it wisely.
So it’s not only your thoughts about making money that matter. Your thoughts about how you would use money matter just as much.
So where are your thoughts today? If it’s Monday, are you dreading another workweek? Or, are you seeing your job as a means to an end, because you are slowly building a fortune?
If you think that way, you’ll think of Mondays as one more day until your ultimate payday. If you like your job, or at least have found enough things to like about it to make it relatively pleasant to go to work, it will make building your fortune that much easier.
So how does a “middle class” or working person build a fortune? First, you have to have a regular savings plan. Have money taken out of your check – it doesn’t matter how much or little you make – regularly to go into savings. Then, don’t touch it, unless you are buying into a superior investment. Let it grow for as long as you work.
Also, as Siebold suggests, perhaps you can find a vehicle that will allow you to build a fortune without interfering with your job. There are many such vehicles out there. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll see lots of former “middle class” folks who learned to revise their thinking, and could tell their employers goodbye quite early in life.
In short, thoughts matter, especially thoughts about money. Give first priority to growing money, second priority to help others grow money and third priority on spending money – wisely. Even if you don’t have much money now, thinking that way will provide you an eventual fortune.
Peter

TRAPPINGS OF UPBRINGING: PART 2

#thinklikearichperson
Growing up, were you often told what was NOT possible?
Did your elders convince you that the world was going to hell in a hand basket?
Were you constantly reminded of your “limitations?”
And, were you told that if you didn’t do certain things, you’d be messed up for life?
These and other things are common in “middle class” thinking, as defined by author Steve Siebold in his book “How Rich People Think.”
He talks about how we are often steered on a path of security, scarcity and pessimism, as opposed to risk-taking, abundance and optimism.
The trick to getting off that train of thought, and potentially becoming wealthy, is relearning what IS possible, believing that things will always get better and knowing that the sky is the limit to your success.
There is certainly nothing wrong with respecting your elders – parents, teachers, preachers etc. There is nothing wrong with emulating their work ethic and empathizing with their struggles. But ultimately, you may realize that some of what they taught you may not work for you. The secret to becoming rich is believing you can be. The secret to becoming rich, as Siebold points out, is to find solutions to problems, or figuring out what people want and delivering it to them.
If you have a job, and most of us do, recognize it for what it is. Especially in this day and age, it’s hardly the security blanket it once might have been. Look at it as a means to move you toward what you really want – that is, if you think like a rich person.
If you monitor how a rich person behaves, you’ll learn that he doesn’t behave that way BECAUSE he has money. He has money because he behaves the way he does.
Sure, good ideas might come from outside the box. But a familiar pattern of limitless possibilities, optimism and fearlessness are pretty standard among those who have money.
As we grow older, we realize that many of our fears are taught. Much of what we view as “evil” was handed down to us. Much of what we see on the horizon we approach with extreme caution and wariness, out of concern that we might lose everything.
To think rich, you don’t have to be rich. But if you think rich, you might become rich. Start by getting comfortable with taking calculated risks. Then, believe that the world will definitely get better, and you are going to help make it so. Then, realize the security you so doggedly sought is at least teetering, if not collapsed altogether. But, that’s OK. Rich people don’t expect entities to give them anything, Siebold writes.
Take a good look at your life. Are you completely happy with it? You just may be. Perhaps you have a wonderful spouse , a supportive family and dependable friends. With all that, who needs financial abundance, right?
But if life is not giving you what you want, and believe you deserve, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. Feed your mind with good information, inspiration and possibilities. Learn that your future can be bright no matter what else happens.
To paraphrase Napoleon Hill, learn to think and become rich.
Peter

MIDDLE CLASS DISAPPEARING? TOO LATE FOR BLAME!

Many of us dreamed of a good job, nice house, great family and never having to worry that all that will go away.
Slowly – or perhaps not so slowly – it may be.
In August 2012, Kansas City Star columnist Mary Sanchez took a look at the problem, thoroughly examined by reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele in their book, “The Betrayal of the American Dream.”
The book details how the middle class is eroding, and how those who consider themselves part of the middle class are voting in favor of people and policies that may be against their own economic interests.
Barlett and Steele, according to Sanchez, point to 1985 as a pivotal year. From 1950 through 1985, the number of American workers with defined-benefit pension plans grew. Since 1985, employers have killed 84,350 defined-benefit pension plans.
These pensions, combined with Social Security – also in peril over time – kept the middle class in the middle class during their elder years.
One may argue that pension plans with employee contributions, combined with company matches, are even better for the employees. That certainly may be true if the employees contribute to or near the maximum allowed by law, AND the financial markets behave.
In recent years, the behavior of the financial markets has been less than stellar. Companies and other employers have had difficulty sustaining their pension plans. The Baby Boom generation is retiring in earnest, thus stressing any type of pension plan.
BLAME NOT IMPORTANT! WHAT TO DO NOW?
Who is at fault here? That’s no longer important. The important thing is what workers do now.
If you have a job in which working past normal retirement age is tenable, that’s an option. If that is not an option for you, you probably need a Plan B. There are many Plan B options out there. To check out one really good one, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau
If you have a pension that has not gone away, consider yourself blessed. You’ve worked hard for it and certainly deserve it. However, others who’ve worked just as hard may not be as lucky. Their employers have broken their promises. Or, their employers never made the promise. Or, their employers have stopped making promises. If you have contributed toward your own pension, you will still have something. But your elder-years lifestyle, or perhaps your current lifestyle, hangs in the balance.
As many advocate less dependence on government, they are in effect advocating more dependency on employers – and many employers like that. Many employers like to see a certain amount of desperation among their staffs. They want people not to get too comfortable in their jobs. They want to maintain the right to break a promise if it proves too difficult to keep.
As an employee, there is little YOU can do about that, other than to leave. The goal becomes to hang in until YOU decide it’s time to go. That may not always be possible.
Consider carefully your own economic interests before making any decision. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll be taken care of, by either government or your employer, when neither may be the case. Not all pensions – even those from the government — will be guaranteed.
If you are young, PRESUME no one will take care of you. If you are older, and have been jilted by your employer, find a Plan B. Try not to work longer than you want to – easier said than done, certainly.
It’s not a matter of what’s happened and whose fault it is. It’s much too late for that in most cases. It’s a matter of how YOU solve YOUR problem, even if YOUR problem is not YOUR fault. Choose carefully.
Peter