There's a really thoughtful post on buddhafun.blogspot.com about economic realities for working class American women. The writer, Stephanie Han, begins the piece by reflecting on her year as a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) and how she and her partner have tried to juggle raising a family with work. She goes on to discuss the real challenges that middle and working class people face in a country like ours that has no nationalized health care or maternity leave plans. As an expat now living near Hong Kong, it's interesting to hear Han's views on how families are supported or not supported in the U.S. and abroad.
Her essay reminded me of a recent interview of Clinton labor secretary Robert Reich where he said that the real problem with our economy is not the damage done by the housing bubble or the illegal and unethical behavior of financiers, it's that wages have remained static for 30 years.
I say hallelujah to his acknowledgment of this ugly truth. Barbara Ehrenreich has been talking and writing about this for a while. People just don't earn enough. Here is my personal testimony:
1992: Earned $33K for an associate attorney position i nDetroit. In 1996, was making around $40K.
1997: Earned $40K as a paralegal in L.A. 1998: Earned $42K as a raise.
2003-2006: Earned around $28K teaching in Phoenix.
2007-2008: Earned around $25K teaching as adjunct faculty at a university.
2008: Interviewed for a contract faculty position at a university and for a specialized staff position at a university. Both jobs paid in mid-$30Ks.
Also in 2008, a friend with a PhD took a position for a tenure-track English Dept. position at a university for a salary of $35K.
I know that I'm not in a high-paying field (teaching/writing). I've also switched professions. I also recognize that I've failed to negotiate higher pay for myself in the past; I've read that many women, like me, low-ball themselves when it comes to salary. However, the facts of my financial history remain. It does not take an economist to see that it's impossible to afford necessities, save money, or have any type of financial freedom if you're making the same salary for seventeen years while the cost of living increased over the same period. Is there still a middle class if most people are over-leveraged? I'd say there's only the working class and the very wealthy.
Go by buddhafun.blogspot.com and reply to the post. Are times just rough for people now or do you see a larger trend?