The Dream Gone Bad: The Facts

The cost of living keeps rising.

Since 2001, the overall costs of living has increased 21.5 percent, driven by big increases in such life essentials as gas, home heating oil and food.
(Consumer Price Index: All Urban Consumers-(CPI-U); U.S. City Averages. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 14 August 2008.).

Gasoline and home-heating oil has increased 108 percent and 99 percent, respectively, since 2001.
(Oil Price Information Service and AAA. Daily Fuel Gauge Report. 2008. (Adjusted 2008 Dollars).
(Energy Information Administration. Weekly U.S. no. 2 Heating Oil Residential Price. 19 March 2008. (Adjusted 2008 Dollars)).

Costs for many staples at the grocery store have gone up sharply: Shoppers are paying 41 percent more for bread, 37 percent more for ground beef, and almost 100 percent more for eggs since January 2001.
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index: Average Price Data. 2008. Data compiled: 12 September 2008. (Adjusted 2008 Dollars).

Wages don’t keep pace.

Since 2000, median household income has declined by 1 percent ($324.00).
(United States Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2007. Table A-1: Households by Total Money Income, Race, and Hispanic Origin of Householder: 1967 to 2007. Pg 31. August 2008. (Adjusted 2008 Dollars)).

Savings vanish.

The personal savings rate is the lowest it has been since the Great Depression (since 1933, the last year it was negative).
(United States Department of Commerce. National Income and Product Accounts Table; Table 2.1 Personal Income and Its Disposition [Billion of Dollars] Seasonally Adjusted at Annual Rates. Bureau of Economic Analysis. 28 August 2008.).

Debt builds up.

In 2007, the total value of all forms of household debt was at its highest on record—nearly 20 percent of all assets. All debt, as a share of annual disposable personal income, was also at its highest, at 141 percent.
(Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Heidi Shierholz. The State of Working America 2008/2009. (Advance Proof). Economic Policy Institute. Pg 284. Ithaca, New York: Cornel University Press, 2008.).

Poverty continues to spread.

Since 2000, poverty has increased 18 percent—an increase of almost 5.7 million Americans.
(United States Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2007. Table B-1: Poverty Status of People by Family Relationship, Race, and Hispanic Origin: 1959 to 2007. Pg 46. August 2008.).

Home values plummet.

Home prices fell 4.8 percent between the second quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of 2008—back to 2005 levels—according to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight.
(Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. “Rate of House Price Declines Slow In Second Quarter.” 26 August 2008.). (Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight. Monthly Seasonally-Adjusted and Unadjusted Indexes: January 1991 – June 2008. 26 August 2008.).

Job losses spread.

Since January 2008, the United States has had a net loss of 679,000 jobs.
(United States Department of Labor. Earnings—National (Current Employment Statistics-CES). 5 September 2008. Data compiled: 12 September 2008.).

The inequalities scream out for change.

An average worker works a whole year to earn what her CEO takes home in one day. In 2007, the chief executives of the 500 biggest companies in the United States made an average of $12.8 million apiece—$51,200 a day; while, the average weekly wage earner makes $42,650 a year.
(Scott DeCarlo. “Top Paid CEOs.” Forbes. 30 April 2008.).
(United States Department of Labor. Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages. Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2008. Data compiled: 12 September 2008.).

A hedge fund billionaire pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. Hedge fund manager billionaire Warren Buffet presently pays taxes at a lower rate than his receptionist (18 percent vs. 30 percent) without offshore tax shelters or other devices he declines to use.
(Tomoeh Murakami Tse. “Buffett Slams Tax System Disparities Speech Raises at Least $1 Million for Clinton Campaign.” Washington Post. 27 June 2007.).

The old deal between the people who own the country and the workers who make it go has been busted.

Over the last seven years profits and productivity have soared. Corporate profits have climbed 13 percent a year in the six years after the 2001 recession ended. Productivity has also increased by 11 percent since the recovery of the 2001 recession.
(“Worked and Over Worked.” New York Times. Pg. 3. 20 April 2008. ).
(Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Heidi Shierholz. The State of Working America 2008/2009. (Advance Proof). Economic Policy Institute. Pg 284. Ithaca, New York: Cornel University Press, 2008.).

Meanwhile, since 2000, median household income has declined by 1 percent ($324.00).
(United States Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2007. Table A-1: Households by Total Money Income, Race, and Hispanic Origin of Householder: 1967 to 2007. Pg 31. August 2008. (Adjusted 2008 Dollars)).

It’s time to empower workers to organize at the workplace and crack down on employees who trample their rights.

Some 60 million U.S. workers say they would join a union if they could, based on research conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates in December 2006. However, when faced with organizing drives, 25 percent of employers fire at least one pro-union worker; 51 percent threaten to close a worksite if the union prevails; and, 92 percent force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with their supervisors.
(American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations. “60 Million Workers Would Join A Union If They Could.” 2007.).
(American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations. “Employer Interference by the Numbers (Private-Sector Employees).” 2007.).

Corporations are shredding promises they made on health care and pensions. It’s time to forge a new social contract.

Employer-provided health insurance for workers has decreased by 8 percent since 2000. That means almost 2 million fewer workers have coverage.
(United States Census Bureau. Current Population Survey 2007. Table A-1: Households by Total Money Income, Race, and Hispanic Origin of Householder: 1967 to 2007. Pg 61. August 2008.).

The percentage of workers covered by employer-provided pensions, which tended to rise in the 1990s, declined by 2.8 percentage points from 2000 to 2006 to 42.8 percent, 7.8 percentage points below the level in 1979.
(Lawrence Mishel, Jared Bernstein, and Heidi Shierholz. The State of Working America 2008/2009. (Advance Proof). Economic Policy Institute. Pg 284. Ithaca, New York: Cornel University Press, 2008.).