The Incredible Shrinking Middle

One of the underexplored aspects of the current unemployment situation in North Carolina is the movement of people from adequate paying jobs to under paying jobs. A study by the NC Justice Center makes it vividly clear:

The nonprofit group determined there were 356,000 more working-age adults employed in the state in 2001 than in 2010, with manufacturing taking the brunt of the job decline.

The state lost 380,000 jobs in that period, with about 75 percent concentrated in industries with average hourly wages that enabled individuals and families to stay above the living income standard. A family of four needed to earn at least $23.47 an hour in 2010 to have enough money to meet basic expenses, according to N.C. state government standards.

The state's manufacturing workforce, which paid an average of $25.30 an hour, fell by 38 percent during the 10-year period. Manufacturing accounted for 72 percent of the state's job losses…

Where North Carolina did have job growth, it mostly came in low-wage industry sectors, the group said. About 83 percent of the job growth came with average wages of less than the $23.47-an-hour living income standard for a family of four.

For example, 15 percent of the state's job growth from 2001 to 2010 came in the food-services and accommodation sectors, which paid $7.15 an hour.

The state's median household income dropped 9.4 percent during the decade, or from $47,823 in 2001 to $43,326 in 2010.

The center found the number of North Carolinians living in poverty – $22,314 annual income for a family of four – rose by 24.1 percent during the decade.

In a nutshell the middle class is shrinking, and not from upward mobility. You would think that would lead to an outcry against the "corporate class," but outside of a little wrist-slapping at the height of the economic meltdown it just hasn't happened. That's what makes this interview of Mike Lofgren by Bill Moyers so easy to believe (h/t Fec for the link). For those of you expecting an anti-Republican screed you'll be disappointed – he basically argues that both parties have been captured by the corporate class. Enjoy:

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