Tag Archive: middle class

Chris Christie & the Middle Class: Lies up in New Hampshire, truth on the street in Jersey

Right now, Gov. Christie, the street in front of the NJ Statehouse is filled with the middle class you’re up in New Hampshire lying to. But of course, like a lot of important stuff, you’re missing it.

Today, Christie gives a “major” economic speech in his do-or-die state, where he’s in 11th place. Christie, the total flop on economic issues.

Organized labor’s role in creating the middle class that politicians of both parties like to talk about is very well known. But beyond the rest of us thanking Labor for our weekends (thank you, Labor), the obligations here in this state go beyond that. Our state workers have paid into their pensions as agreed; New Jersey has not reliably done so. And now we have an ambitious governor – trying to get a bigger job without cleaning up the mess he’s made here – whose lawyers argue in court that the agreement he made is now – presto! change-o! – unconstitutional. But just now that he’s actually required to fulfill it. Pretzel logic.

We’re following hashtag #FundNJPension. Sea of red right now at the Statehouse. Count these folks as a lot of the middle class Christie has already lied to, protesting his failure to do the right thing by them, even after being so ordered by the court. As they say, they never missed their payments.

#FundNJPension rally Trenton Statehouse May 12, 2015

Christie’s actual economic record? marshwren (who also comments here) sums it up succinctly (in a comment to NJ.com)  – To the jump page!

The Path Toward Reducing Inequality in NJ

The talk of economists recently has been about Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century – a book which uses data stretching back more than a century from different countries. It also provides lessons for us today in New Jersey about inequality, the Super Rich, income distribution, Super Salaries, inheritance, corporate taxes, social investments, declining middle class and the rise of the poor.

In this segment we look at how inequality is more severe in NJ than nationally, at the billionaires in NJ many of whose income provides little social benefit, and at a specific New Jerseyan whose corporate “super salary” was disproportionate in comparison with that of other employees.  

Economic Opportunity is Slip Slidin’ Away for Most New Jerseyans

promoted by Rosi

As you may have read in the press and here on Blue Jersey, yesterday the US Census released new comprehensive data from 2012 on incomes, demographics, poverty and more. The picture for New Jersey, unfortunately, is not a pretty one. In the post-recession period from 2009 to 2012, New Jersey has seen: Fewer households in the middle class, lower median incomes, greater income inequality and dramatic increases in poverty.

As my colleague Ray Castro explains in an Issue Brief we released yesterday, “three years into the national recovery, New Jersey’s middle class is worse off and poverty is deepening for already-poor families.”

New Jersey was one of only five states in the country to see an increase in family poverty from 2011 to 2012, and one in ten residents now live below the official federal poverty level. Even more – one in four – live below 200 percent of the federal poverty level, which is considered a better measurement of true hardship in high-cost New Jersey.

poverty

One place we can clearly see the impact of increasing poverty and strain on the middle class is the dramatic increase in the share of New Jersey households who are receiving food stamps: That share rose to 9.3 percent in 2012, up from 5.5 percent in 2009 (it was 8 percent in 2011). In other words, the share of households requiring food stamps jumped by an alarming 69 percent in just three years. Yet the House GOP voted just last night to cut the SNAP program. (We should thank New Jersey’s two Republican Congressmen – LoBiondo and Smith – who stood up to their party and voted no.)

The stats are disturbing, and worth a look – but the solutions are equally important, because there are actions the state can take to help reverse this slide:

• Restore the 20 percent cut in the state Earned Income Tax Credit which mainly helps working families with children

• Increase the eligibility level for WorkFirst NJ, which now provides temporary cash assistance to less than half the families with children in poverty

• Increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation

• Maintain housing programs that support struggling working families

• Increase state efforts to provide health insurance to poor and working families under the Affordable Care Act

• Invest in high-quality preschool for more children from poor families

• Strongly oppose proposed draconian federal cutbacks in food stamps, unemployment insurance, health coverage and other safety net programs

A Wake Up Call for the Governor

Unlike Republicans who hope the nation’s economy fails so that they can continue to attack President Obama, Democrats are working hard at the state level to help New Jersey recover. Whether or not you agree with some of the compromises that the Christie-leaning Democrats have made in Trenton, their actions, albeit painful for the middle class, show that they are not stonewalling or trying to make the Governor look bad. But the governor’s “Jersey Comeback” remains elusive, and Christie needs to recognize this and ensure that all New Jerseyans do their fair share, not just the poor and middle class.

Figures released earlier today show that the state’s revenue last fiscal year was a quarter-billion dollars less than forecast. This should send a wake-up call to the governor. The current  budget has been balanced without any sacrifice from the wealthy. It’s time for the governor to man up, realize that the state’s fiscal crisis is still with us, and reinstate the modest tax increase on the wealthy – for the good of New Jersey and in the name of fiscal responsibility.

Income Inequality in New Jersey

promoted by Rosi

Originally published on PolitickerNJ. Cross-posted at DailyKos.

It comes as no surprise that income inequality in America – the divide between the wealthy and everyone else – has grown in recent years. Now we have a new report documenting the growing divide here in New Jersey.

The report “Income Inequality In New Jersey: The Growing Divide and Its Consequences,” issued by Legal Services of New Jersey, shows that this terrible trend is just as bad in New Jersey as in the country – maybe worse.

Basically, the report shows the rich have gotten richer and everyone else – middle class families, working people and the economically disadvantaged – have suffered. Whatever wealth that has been generated over the past decade has gravitated to the top.

More than 75 percent of the additional income generated in New Jersey went to the top 20 percent of households, with the richest 1 percent receiving the bulk of the increase. The bottom 40 percent lost income and everyone else experienced stagnate income or minimal growth that failed to keep pace with inflationary costs.  

NJ Nets & NBA: Dysfunction and Excess Among the 1%

Not a pretty picture: Millionaire players and mega millionaire owners duke it out over money while the rest of us who enjoy professional basketball are relegated to dark screens and closed arenas. What with the high ticket costs and concession prices, attending this sport, as with football and hockey, is becoming increasingly an event for the wealthy.  Exhibition games were supposed to have begun this month, but as of now the season has been cancelled through the end of november.

Wealthy players and owners are arguing over how to divide up the revenue and whether to lower salary caps.  In fact the sport has become more about money than the game, driving away fans of modest means, particular in low income cities like Newark where people love basketball but watch it on TV if they can afford their cable bills.

The solution is to reduce player salaries and owner profits so that tickets become more affordable. What a novel idea!  So great an idea that undoubtedly the 1% nationally will reduce their own exorbitant salaries and excessive profits.  A  nice thought for a snowy Saturday when electric power just went off.  

Anyone Know How To Get A Rally Started?

“If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America. Because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.” Sen. Barack Obama – Presidential Campaign Speech in 2007

Those words still resonate in the ears of many American working class families who gave their dollars and their votes to elevate Barack Obama into the office of President of the United States and now many of those same American working class families are asking whatever happened to those comfortable shoes or the candidate who promised to wear them and stand with working class American union members in defense of their rights.

The last two years have seen some of the most egregious and draconian attacks on public unions and middle class families in the last 30 years and President Obama has remained mostly silent and conspicuously detached from all of it.

NAACP says Black women disproportionately hit by cuts

Note: We don’t normally post press releases, but I thought this info was interesting and germane to the proceedings going on right now in the State House, in terms of their impact, according to NAACP, on a particular population segment of African-American women & professionals. And, with all that’s going on, I don’t have time to tease this into a diary. So, here word-for-word is what NAACP has to say –

Study: Black Women, Professionals Would be Disproportionately Affected by Trenton’s Cuts

Ben Jealous, President and CEO of the NAACP issued a strongly worded statement, calling on Trenton leaders to respect the right to collective bargaining as a new report says moves to significantly cut the health care and pension benefits of state workers could fall hardest on New Jersey’s black middle-class – particularly on black women and black workers with professional degrees. Ben Jealous:

We see this same pattern in many states and cities across the nation.  Public sector jobs are critical in communities of color and attacks on bargaining rights and health care disproportionately affect our communities.  The NAACP nationally and in NJ supports bargaining rights, not stripping these rights at this critical time.  This recession will never end if benefits and wages continue to decline in all sectors.  Now public workers are under attack everywhere and we stand with them.

Public sector jobs have served as the gateway to the middle-class for thousands of black New Jerseyans,” said Jeffrey Keefe, a professor of Labor and Employment Relations at the Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations and author of today’s report. “But those quality jobs are now threatened by Trenton’s proposed cuts to public workers.  These cuts will fall disproportionately on African-American workers and their families, further damaging a community still struggling to recover from the economic downtown.  Black women, who make up 78% of the black public sector workforce, and Black workers with professional degrees will be particularly hard hit.

The report’s key findings include:

  • Black workers earn 93% more each year working in the public sector than the private sector ($38,091 compared to $19,698).

  • 89% of Black public employees have employer-provided health insurance, compared to just 50% of Black workers in the private sector.

  • Public sector jobs are particularly important for Black women.  78% of the Black public sector labor force is female, compared to 53% of the private sector Black work force.  

  • The public sector employs five times the proportion of Black professionals as the private sector.  40% of Black workers employed in the public sector are professionals.

  • The public sector employs college-educated Black workers at 2.5 times the rate of the private sector.  

    Approximately, 37% of Black public employees are college-educated, compared to 15% of private sector Black workers.