Labor Day 2006

It’s a holiday in the US, labor day. I took the day off (kind of). I know the rest of the world celebrates labor day on May 1st but we don’t do that here in the US. No, no. We want to be very certain our holiday remains unsullied by those Marxist hippie types everywhere else so we distance it by date as far as we reasonably can from international labor day lest by date proximity, our holiday is compromised by flower wreath wearing commies twirling crepe paper streamers around may poles. One should never become complacent with regard to such matters.

Speaking of labor, handily, the Economic Policy Institute has released its annual The State of Working America 2006/2007. This summarizes the conditions of American workers as described by analyses of income, wages, economic mobility, as well as statistics on wealth, and poverty. Some highlights:

While the distribution of income and wages has become increasingly unequal, the distribution of wealth has become even more so. The authors point out that in 2004, about 17% of all income nationwide went to the top-earning 1%, while the bottom 90% received just under 58% of all income. That same year, however, the top 1% held over 34% of all net worth, while the bottom 90% held a little under 29% of net worth.

Tragically, it would seem the gains enjoyed by the few above are not commensurate with gains in productivity (!) and incomes of the average family. Rather, the state of working people continues to degrade -or at least it has since 2000. For example, during the Clinton administration from 1995 and 2000, real median family income grew 2.2% annually. For less-advantaged groups, the gains were even more remarkable (2.9% for Blacks, 4.6% for Hispanics, and 3.1% for single moms). However, since 2000, families and wage earners are continuing to lose ground. Median family incomes have fallen by 3%,or about $1,600 in 2004 dollars.

In real terms of course, all I can do is continue to encourage you to hire your neighbors and friends as much as you can. Spend your money in your communities and as close to home as you are able. Keep your money working close to home where it has greatest impact. Money you pay in local wages and salaries is recycled over and over within your community, enriching, growing and supporting working families.

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