From coast to coast, middle-class communities are shrinking
Fully 1 in 3 Americans who work in the manufacturing sector are receiving some form of public assistance, according to a study released this week by the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. Of those who came to their positions through temp agencies half are on some type of safety net program. This was reported by CNBC.
I took a drive up to the Griffith Park Observatory here in Los Angeles last month. It wasn’t for going inside the building. It was a windy day and I anticipated a beautiful view from the parking lot. I was not disappointed. I obtained a photo that included a view of Catalina Island on the horizon. The distance is about 35 miles from the observatory.
I chose an alternate route back home and drove by Los Angeles City College. To my shock the sidewalk across the boulevard was lined with the tents and shelters of the homeless packed closely together. According to the Los Angeles Times there are now an estimated 44,000 homeless people in Los Angeles County. How did the numbers get so big?
Sports Chalet (more than 50 locations primarily in California) and Sports Authority (463 stores) are closing all of their stores. They started those closings last month. Kohl’s is closing 18 stores and laying off more than 1,500 employees. Where will the laid off workers go?
Back in November 2015 Macy’s Department stores reported a sharp drop in quarterly sales and lowered their forecast for 2016. Macy’s reported unsold goods piling up in their stores. Today they reported another quarter of sinking sales and once again slashed its financial targets for the rest of the year.
Meanwhile where are the jobs of the past here in Los Angeles and elsewhere in the United States? Those were the thousands of aerospace engineering jobs that were a major contributor to the strong California middle class that are mostly gone. The falloff in manufacturing jobs during the past 14-year period has caused factories to shed about 5 million workers from their payrolls nationally. Factories from all over the nation have moved to other countries. In their place are low paying service jobs that offer pay rates as low as $7.25, $15, and $25 an hour. Those jobs do not support a middle class family. They certainly do not support a Macy’s or Sports Authority price line.
Discount chains like T.J. Maxx and fast-fashion retailers such as H&M offering jeans as cheap as $17 and polo shirts for $10 are succeeding because that’s all today’s workers can afford.
So businesses keep outsourcing your work to low cost countries because you see it as a way to higher profits. Just remember that those of us left with those low paid jobs will be shopping at Walmart, Target, and the other afore-mentioned discount stores. The vicious cycle continues to drive people from the middle class to poor and homeless.
Don’t tell me you do not know what happened to the middle class.