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Middle Class Struggles Under A Sluggish Economy

posted on March 14, 2014

Middle Class Struggles Under A Sluggish Economy

A sluggish economy over the last 4½ years has left Americans stuck in entry level jobs with little chance of advancement. 

Richard Wilson, Walmart Employee, Chicago:  "I just find myself like many other Americans out there that did the right thing, that did what we were supposed to do only to find out that the jobs we were promised were not there."

The Congressional Budget Office or CBO foresees growth through 2016 but unfavorable job reports so far this year have raised doubts about predictions that 2014 could see breakout growth.  So far the prospects of an economic rebound seem to be fading which is not good news for people looking for jobs or those hoping to advance.

Janet Sparks, Walmart Customer Service Manager:  "I should have enough money to afford gas to drive two miles to work and two miles back."

Since 2007, household incomes have declined nearly 9 percent for the bottom 40 percent of wage earners. While a stronger economy could lead to more and better paying jobs, the nation’s largest civilian employer, with 2.2 million employees, believes more and better jobs could lead to a stronger economy. 

David Tovar, Walmart Vice President:  "We have about 140 million customers that shop in our stores each week, and if those people are getting more opportunities and are earning higher incomes and there's a vibrant middle class, that's going to lead to more disposable income in people's wallets and pocket books and we'll get our fair share."

The agriculture sector is also seeing an erosion of the middle class. USDA’s Economic Research Service projects national net farm income, a key indicator of U.S. farm well-being, will be 27% lower than last year’s record $130.5 billion.

Following up on recent Census of Agriculture Data, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack says the agency is adjusting policies, strengthening programs and intensifying outreach to meet the needs of small and mid-sized producers.

Vilsack announced the initiatives this week at the National Farmers Union National Convention.  The aim is to connect more small and mid-sized farmers with USDA resources that would allow them to boost sales and expand operations. A major component will be to make it easier make it easier for small and midsized farmers to qualify for loans that allow them to build or upgrade farm storage and handling facilities.  It includes an increase in limits in the microloan program for smaller, nontraditional, from $35,000 to $50,000.  Since its inception last year nearly 5,000 loans have provided $97 million in credit.

Tags: economy jobs middle class Walmart


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