The US Census data was released today, and it’s not good despite what they tell you. CBS and NPR touted the Census Bureau’s 2015 data that was released today as proof that things are getting better in America. Here’s what the data shows:
According to CBS, NPR and the Census Data, the “median” ‘household’ income in the US was $56,000 in 2015. That’s slightly higher then 2014. That’s the big news (not so big news).
But here’s the reality
The “median” household income is a figure that includes all income received from all sources for all residents. That means that Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s incomes were included in that data. That skews the chart to falsely suggest that the wages of most Americans are improving. If you take away the top 10% of income that “receivers” (those making way more then a million a year) obtain, the “median” figure drops dramatically. Moreover, between 2007 and 2015 the largest wealth inequality gap grew astronomically with a huge land-grab by the rich, and a huge property loss by regular Americans. Americans took on more work, more jobs, and more debt in an attempt to keep up with the rising cost of living.
Cost of Living Index (COLI)
The cost of living is defined as, “the cost of food, clothing, and other necessary or usual goods and services paid by a person, family, etc., or considered as a standard by the members of a group” (US Residents in this case). Basically, the Cost of Living is the basic costs to live a ‘normal’ life in the US.
The better figure than “median” income would be to determine the “average” income of hourly wage earners, and per person not per household. The ‘per household’ term is misleading. The average household in the US is 2.58 people for residence. That is broken down to Two income earners and a half dependent (child).
The average cost of living (COLI) is currently $2,372 per adult and $1,574 per child. Thus a single adult with one child needs $3,946 to meet the cost of living in America. Two adult wage earners and one-half a dependent equals $5,531 (2x 2,372 + 1,574 = $5,531). That’s $66,372 per year cost of living per “household” (average, not median).
This means that the average cost of living in the US is $66,000/household, and the median income, according to recent Census data, is $56,000/year/household. So Americans are $10,000 short every year on average. Some people think it is acceptable that some people live with no savings, no retirement, no luxuries or investments, no higher education, no vacations or holiday spending. Those same people think people who are broke are lazy. They’re wrong of course, but they’d rather die then raise wages or consider other progressive solutions.
The census data is also proof that we have not recovered from 2007 where the median household income was $58,000. So we are $2,000 short of the 2007 numbers. Meanwhile, the cost of living has went up every year since 2007 (9 years), AND housing costs (rent and mortgages) have went up at least 6% almost EVERY YEAR since 2007. That means that on average people are paying 48% higher housing costs today then in 2007, and that at least half of the country accumulated more than $90,000 in debt just to keep up with the cost of living from 2007 to 2015.
“Poverty” statistics and data are totally different from the Cost of Living numbers. Poverty, as “defined by the Office of Management and Budget and updated for inflation using the Consumer Price Index, the weighted average poverty threshold for a family of four in 2015 was $24,257” (from the census report). Read that again! Poverty levels in the US, meaning the income you need to have to be considered “in poverty” is $24,257 for a FAMILY OF FOUR! The poverty income limits are ridiculously too low. The cost of living is supposed to be the norm, which is $42,000 higher than poverty per household. If you are a family of four with only $25,000 or so per year income, you are not impoverished, you are surviving on the street suffering an unimaginable lifestyle that’s unacceptable in the most prosperous country in the history of the world.
If that same family is earning the “median” household income of $56,000, you’re struggling to make ends meet and going into debt to survive. Which means that both the census data, the cost of living index, and the poverty levels need to be updated to something realistic and rational. Some people think it’s acceptable for a large portion of America’s population to live in poverty (same group that doesn’t want to raise wages). They’re wrong of course, but try telling them the facts about wages and how they are injected back into the economy resulting in profits for businesses and that paying low wages results in less profits.
Let that sink in for a minute. Do the math for yourself. The American dream? Oh, yeah that. I remember when I believed in Santa Claus too. So next time you hear any media source telling you “everything is awesome”, think again.
Given the current state of the US Economy, automation and robotics that are poised to take 40% of all jobs in the next 20-30 years, the type of government we have, and the banking and currency system, the only viable solution to this is called, “The Universal Basic Income” (UBI).
If you’re one of those people who think wages are fine, broke people are lazy, housing costs are just right, that it’s acceptable to maintain the cycle of poverty and low wages in the US despite the negative effects of wealth inequality on health, the economy and education of our population, then YOU are part of the problem. And FUCK YOU too!