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Old 12-14-2013, 12:48 PM   #1
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The Shrinking Middle Class

From middle-class to minimum wage. With no way back | Toronto Star

Came across the article just this morning, and somehow, this time it really struck a cord and resonated. The concept of the shrinking middle class and their downfall is certainly not new, but I found this particular graphic to be especially sobering:



The other 2 graphics are revealing as well, although they didn't carry as much impact for me as the one above:





While going through school, I've always considered my family to be solidly rooted in the middle class. But the longer I've been out working, the more I feel like I'm drifting straight into the working class end, with the poor class easily within sight should anything unexpected happens...
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Old 12-14-2013, 01:49 PM   #2
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I would like to see a chart of the quality of food people used to eat, prior to 50 years ago, and today. Im betting the poor, middle class, and even upper class consume sub-par food compared to the past.
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Old 12-14-2013, 02:03 PM   #3
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At least our modern artists are humble about their wealth, and I'm so glad they rap/sing about the problems and strife affecting our way of life rather than just make music talking about how great they are
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Old 12-14-2013, 04:04 PM   #4
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How long until we see a modern French Revolution?

With the internet, the people have such a powerful weapon for change. It's no wonder governments and companies have been quietly attempting to monitor and restrict its use worldwide while claiming to protect children, fight terrorism, etc.
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Old 12-14-2013, 06:34 PM   #5
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People always dis unions. And yes there are many negatives of having a union. But unions were the first to fight for work conditions and standards and are the reason we have:

1. Safety rights
2. for the majority, a regular 5 day workweek (weekends off)
3. paid holidays
4. mandatory lunches and breaks
5. other benefits.
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Old 12-14-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
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I think worker rights are going away and with globalization, it's just going to be a race to the bottom in terms of wages. Corporations will be want to cut costs as much as they can.

All the jobs are going to China and India, and they are not coming back.

China is growing rapidly, manipulating their currency and doing things that benefit their country at the expense of western countries.
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Old 12-14-2013, 06:49 PM   #7
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Do your part, get an education for yourself and/or your kids.
It's a good way to compete in the global economy.

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Old 12-14-2013, 06:59 PM   #8
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How long until we see a modern French Revolution?
They tried. It was called "Occupy".

Accomplished nothing. Unfortunately, I don't think we will see anything like it again as no matter how long it lasted, how many bought "we are the 99%" t-shirt, and no matter how many news storied there were, the "protest" ended without so much as an acknowledgement from anyone of any relevance.
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Old 12-14-2013, 07:01 PM   #9
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Do your part, get an education for yourself and/or your kids.
It's a good way to compete in the global economy.

Can't compete in a "global economy" when you are going poor from student loan payments.

Don't over estimate the importance of a post-secondary education.
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Old 12-14-2013, 08:34 PM   #10
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I would say that the main driving force behind the trends observed in the first post would probably be the cost of housing. (Re: the decline of the middle class table)

2002-2012 Wages have barely moved, cost of housing has more than doubled in most parts of Canada. ROT used to be that housing costs "should" be take up about 33% of your income, safe to say that number is far from realistic for most households.

To add insult to injury, NA trade deficit is also a contributor.

Get an education, work your ass off, find a niche, or prepare to be part of the "new" middle class.

I don't buy the "going broke from student loan payments", you should be able to work part time and pay for schooling as you progress, just stay the &##% away from the bar/party scene and accept you won't have any nice things for a while. If you came out of school with massive debt it's probably because you screwed around when you should have been working/studying.

/end Asian father rant.
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:23 AM   #11
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I don't buy the "going broke from student loan payments", you should be able to work part time and pay for schooling as you progress, just stay the &##% away from the bar/party scene and accept you won't have any nice things for a while. If you came out of school with massive debt it's probably because you screwed around when you should have been working/studying.

/end Asian father rant.
This is true. I work a few weekends during the school year and then FT during the summers and am able to cover all or most of my Uni tuition usually. Mind you, this doesn't include living costs but they shouldn't be astronomical if you live within your means...
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Old 12-15-2013, 12:58 AM   #12
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I don't buy the "going broke from student loan payments", you should be able to work part time and pay for schooling as you progress, just stay the &##% away from the bar/party scene and accept you won't have any nice things for a while. If you came out of school with massive debt it's probably because you screwed around when you should have been working/studying.

/end Asian father rant.
Wise words with tons of merit.

However, you're only young once. And when the time has passed, you don't get that shit back.

Education and money on the other hand... they will be there when you turn 25, 30, our even 40. You just may be half a decade behind from your peers but hey.... at least you got to fuck around for a while (figuratively and literally)
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:27 AM   #13
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Not everyone is afforded the luxury to live at home while going to school.

I had 3 jobs while doing to full-time university and still needed to take a student loan to pay for tuition.
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Old 12-15-2013, 02:51 PM   #14
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the data from those graphs sound like they're done by polling... which means it is just the OPINION of those being surveyed, not always reflective of the truth

sure, less people feel they are in the middle class and more feel they are poor... but that doesn't mean that is reality. It could be just that people have a higher standard for which they envision themselves now. In 2009 maybe keeping the phone you had for 2 years was okay, nowadays a 1year old phone is outdated making you feel poor

I think more empirical data backing up these claims would help the legitimacy of those graphs
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Old 12-15-2013, 03:28 PM   #15
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Not everyone is afforded the luxury to live at home while going to school.

I had 3 jobs while doing to full-time university and still needed to take a student loan to pay for tuition.
Then surely you must be eligible for bursaries and grants. How much do you get outer semester? Do you qualify for any scholarships?
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Old 12-15-2013, 04:01 PM   #16
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Then surely you must be eligible for bursaries and grants. How much do you get outer semester? Do you qualify for any scholarships?
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How so?

I received one bursary my last semester for $1100. Was one of those random Canadian Millennium ones that everyone who applies for student loans is qualified for.

I was just your average university student.

White.
Middle class.
Early 20s.

I didn't play an instrument, I didn't belong to any type of society/church/volunteer thing that provides scholarships. I am not disabled. I am not a minority. Was not on social assistance. My grades were above average, but nothing spectacular, etc.

My jobs were Roger's Video, Safeway, and a lab assistant in the department of my major (work study)....remember, this was when minimum wage was $7/hr. so at about 20 hours a week (some times more, some times less), that is only $140 before tax.

$140 would not even cover ONE university credit.
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Old 12-15-2013, 05:24 PM   #17
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the data from those graphs sound like they're done by polling... which means it is just the OPINION of those being surveyed, not always reflective of the truth

sure, less people feel they are in the middle class and more feel they are poor... but that doesn't mean that is reality. It could be just that people have a higher standard for which they envision themselves now. In 2009 maybe keeping the phone you had for 2 years was okay, nowadays a 1year old phone is outdated making you feel poor

I think more empirical data backing up these claims would help the legitimacy of those graphs
You need only compare median household income with home prices over the last ten years to see the validity of the first graph.

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How so?

I received one bursary my last semester for $1100. Was one of those random Canadian Millennium ones that everyone who applies for student loans is qualified for.

I was just your average university student.

White.
Middle class.
Early 20s.

I didn't play an instrument, I didn't belong to any type of society/church/volunteer thing that provides scholarships. I am not disabled. I am not a minority. Was not on social assistance. My grades were above average, but nothing spectacular, etc.

My jobs were Roger's Video, Safeway, and a lab assistant in the department of my major (work study)....remember, this was when minimum wage was $7/hr. so at about 20 hours a week (some times more, some times less), that is only $140 before tax.

$140 would not even cover ONE university credit.
What did you take? Were you not able to obtain decent full time employment over the summer? it's obviously not easy to work a lot of part time hours during the regular school year but you have about 4 months off to work/save every year.
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Old 12-15-2013, 06:47 PM   #18
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What did you take? Were you not able to obtain decent full time employment over the summer? it's obviously not easy to work a lot of part time hours during the regular school year but you have about 4 months off to work/save every year.
I did summer semester to finish university ASAP and one summer I did field school/practicum/volunteer for experience.

I used my degree successfully upon graduation ($35/hr) for 8 years before I decided to change careers so it is not like I walked out of uni with a bullshit degree.

As for full time employment when I could get it, at minimum wage $7/hr that equates to $1120/month before tax. Try paying rent and living expenses with that. Also, I am (and was) not a drinker or partier, I didn't go clubbing, or have expensive hobbies.

I am not saying, "woe is me" in any sense of the word....it was what it was, but I do get frustrated when people just assume that going to school without a student loan is an option for everyone. Working more jobs or working more hours truly does not cut it. My average (iirc) was about $2500-3000/semester and about $500-1000 in books and supplies and this was BEFORE everyone had a laptop, lol. So, I could work full time for 4 months to pay for tuition....but, I'd be living in a van down by the river
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Old 12-15-2013, 06:55 PM   #19
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how do you define poor , working, middle and upper?

is there an income threshold? is the number of vacations that a family takes in a year?
if you make a 100k but have 90k in living expenses vs if you have 20k and 10k in living expenses - who's poor / upper?


the terms seem super subjective in my mind.
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:09 PM   #20
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Cost of living plus lack of industrial/tech/ innovation can't sustain the old middle class; like the ones who climbed up from being a blue collar to middle management. Either the political system needs to become more socialist to create parity or the government needs to become very business friendly.
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:31 PM   #21
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Cost of living plus lack of industrial/tech/ innovation can't sustain the old middle class; like the ones who climbed up from being a blue collar to middle management. Either the political system needs to become more socialist to create parity or the government needs to become very business friendly.
The way North American Society is becoming, we would rather live in a country where:

there's a minimum social safety net, there's less subsidizing for others, it's pay as you use and a very small % of individuals will be very wealthy and hold the majority of the wealth. While the many will be making decent wages, but many will also be living with poverty level incomes. In this model, the rich are getting richer and the poor and "middle class" are shrinking. It's a good model if you are rich or become rich and can achieve the american dream. ie. less socialist


another alternative is what countries like the Scandinavians have which is a higher social safety net, taxes are much higher and there's more subsidizing for others. The middle class here is better off, there's less poor people, but if you are rich, it's harder to be filthy rich because more of you earnings are taxed as there's a higher tax rate and less legal loopholes to avoid taxes. ie. more socialist.
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:35 PM   #22
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This isn't rocket science, 30 years ago if you had a job at Sears in the shoe department it was considered a "career", paid a decent wage (Relative to COGS), had full benefits, vacation, and probably even some kind of pension.

Now jobs that come with decent wage, benefits, vacation, and pension are HARD to find. Even coming out of school as an M.eng you will likely end up working somewhere that the best perks are half-ass benefits/vacation, and a piss ass little RRSP matching program that will max out at like 5k... oh and your salary, expect 50-60k per year until your resume has some strength.

I work for one of Canada's best employers, at our Calgary office Sr. Engineers/Accountants/Lawyers make about 130k MAX, bonus is capped around 15% of annual, great health and dental programs, and full pension after 30 years of service, @ 10k/year. This is pretty much THE BEST salary employee pay/benefit package I have ever seen, most pale in comparison. (It is a publicly traded company, private companies seem to offer less perks IMO)
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Old 12-15-2013, 07:49 PM   #23
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Quality of life worse than 25 years ago

Brb: brand new iphone, multiple flat screen tvs, pc, laptop, internet, expensive clothes, $7 daily coffees.

people didnt have ANY OF THAT 25 years ago. the money they made went to basic household needs and their family. only the well off people had toys. now a days everyone feels it is their entitlement to have all the latest toys. there is no lifestyle difference between well off people and the middle class, except the middle class pay for it with borrowed money they cant pay back.
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Old 12-15-2013, 08:42 PM   #24
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I havent had time to read the whole thread, but have to add this quote from a musician.

It's really difficult for a person to create their own life and their own freedom. It's going to become more and more difficult, and it's going to create more and more disillusioned people who become dishonest and angry and are willing to fuck the next guy to get what they want. There's so much stepping on the backs of other people in our profession. We've been so lucky that we've never had to do that. Part of it was because of our own tenacity, and part of it was because we were lucky.
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Old 12-15-2013, 09:19 PM   #25
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how do you define poor , working, middle and upper?

is there an income threshold? is the number of vacations that a family takes in a year?
if you make a 100k but have 90k in living expenses vs if you have 20k and 10k in living expenses - who's poor / upper?

the terms seem super subjective in my mind.
I would sort people using a socioeconomic scale that categorizes people as being either poor, working class, lower middle class, middle middle class, upper middle class, upper lower class and upper upper class. An aggregated 'middle class' is just too large and there's too much diversity within it (i.e. the resources and skills possessed by a middle lower vs. upper middle is too qualitatively and quantitatively distinct). To make a determination, I would consider income (and the sources it comes from), educational level (including prestige of institution), net worth, occupation, family history, personal values, etc. In your example and ignoring everything else, I would consider the person making 100k as being higher on the socioeconomic scale than someone who only made 20k.

For example:
poor - those that survive off disability and welfare payments and those who do work but can barely afford the basic necessities
lower middle class - blue collar, clerical
middle middle class - white collar
upper middle class - professional occupations such as lawyer, doctor, pharmacist, or professor
upper class - capitalist class (owner's of the means of production) including high level CEOs and successful sports/movie stars. However, in the past, you would have to be part of the aristocracy to be considered upper class in certain societies.
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