Yes, the Economy is Growing, But Mostly Just for the Wealthy

A new analysis by the Associated Press shows that rich Americans aren’t just taking home more money than regular people — they’re also vastly less likely to be unemployed than the poorest families. While people making $150,000 or more a year have an unemployment rate of only 3.2%, families earning less than $20,000 a year have unemployment rates of over 21%. To get a sense of historical perspective, that’s the same level of unemployment Americans last saw during the Great Depression.

Part of the problem is that middle-income workers have been pushed into lower-wage jobs due to the poor economy, forcing some lower-income workers with fewer skills out of the workforce entirely. As a result, 15% of the U.S. population is stuck in poverty with little hope of improvement: 46.2 million people.

A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found that middle income jobs were the majority of the positions cut during the recession at 60%, but that equivalent jobs have failed to reappear now that the economy is in recovery. In fact, new middle income jobs only account for a measly 22% of recent growth. Low wage jobs, on the other hand, have made up 58% of recovery growth.

Employment isn’t the only area where the rich are far ahead of middle and lower-income Americans. They’re also making far more money than ever before, while everyone else is making less. The EPI study found that the majority of new jobs added to the economy following the recession pay less than $13.83 an hour. Meanwhile, the top 10% of earners took home a full half of all income generated in 2012 — the highest amount ever recorded since the data was first collected a century ago.

Unfortunately, matters probably won’t improve any time soon — as Harvard economist Richard Freeman told the AP, “If the economy were growing enough or unions were stronger, it would be possible for the less educated to do better and for the lower income to improve. But in our current world, where we are still adjusting to globalization, that is not very likely to happen.”

Photo credit: Thinkstock


Jim Ven
Jim V1 years ago

thanks for the article.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill4 years ago

They need to fix the problems! Everyone is content just to keep kicking the can down the road. I don't care what party they are, JUST FIX IT!

Cletus W.
Cletus W.4 years ago

Paul B. says: "NICE... After five years, you are STILL blaming Bush. D_E_N_I_A_L is a HUGE problem in this country."

Yes, and in 1945, after 5 years they were still blaming Hitler and Tojo for WWII. What a transparently sophomoric way to try to backpeddal from the Bush FAILURE. You apparently wish to enforce some arbitrary time limit for blaming the perpetrators of major mistakes.

Today's economic problems ARE still Bush's and the [R]'s fault, just as in 1945 the origins of WWII were still the fault of the Germans and Japanese.

Yes, DENIAL is still a big problem in the US.....but that PROBLEM is absolutely OWNED by you monkey-smelling Teatards. And that is what is absolutely scary about you rightwing dim-wits -- you would re-elect Bush in a heartbeat and re-live the abject [R] FAILURES all over again, merely to satisfy your uber-ideological urges.

So, hang on slackjaw! We are once again dragging you rightwingers kicking and screaming into prosperity, just as we did against your will in the 1990s.

Margaret Goodman
Margaret G4 years ago

One of the commenters suggested saving $10 a week or driving an old car or buying a duplex and putting renters into one half of it.

How can someone who is barely keeping shelter and food going to save $10 per week? How can that person afford any kind of car at all? How can that person buy a shack, let along a duplex?? At least half of our population is in that bind.

I think that those who are well off have no idea what it's like to be poor.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

No, Ros, if people have no fixed address, they cannot register to vote, which makes sense for our system. Representation in DC is based on your district, and then there is the myriad of purely local positions and issues on which we vote. Would you want someone who didn't live in your school district voting to raise your taxes to increase funding? Probably not, I'm guessing. Because of our history, we have a lot of very local control over a variety of things that are surprising to people in other countries. All of this made perfect sense in a collection of colonies founded by religious extremists with doctrinal differences large and small nearly four hundred years ago - now, not so much, but Puritan New England became firmly cemented as our founding myth over the purely commercial Jamestown during the Civil War.

Cathleen K.
Cathleen K4 years ago

There's a real up side to this, folks. According to polling data, the average American no longer believes that their economic situation will improve, and better yet, there are record numbers of Americans who are admitting that they are poor. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to changing the power of the rich in this country has been the refusal of the public to face that the game is rigged and that they will be the losers. Steinbeck said it best when he quipped "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." That's changing, and if things continue as they have been for the past three decades, the folks who've been worshipping at the feet of the 'job creators' and demonizing unions are heading for a spectacular fall as a majority of the public wakes up and smells the coffee. I see guillotines!

Stanley R.
Stanley R4 years ago

Ask the Godfather pizza guy about the poor Mr. Herman Cain, "they only have themselves to blame"

sandra j.
sandra j4 years ago

...Wells Fargo has predicted that the stock market is going to crash again in the next 3 months......the housing market is going south again..and analysts have said a bigger depression is coming...the last several years were just a warning .....
I guess we will see......we already have lost the American dream..... job security really is no more

Lynnl C.
Lynn C4 years ago


Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

So goes the American dream...GLOOMY. Thanks