Fort Wayne resident Ray Cash knows there are haves and have-nots – in fact hes come close to the latter at least once in his life.
Thats just the way it is, the way its always been, the 40-something maintenance man said Tuesday. Thats the American way.
Perhaps, but the Economic Policy Institute, a liberal-leaning research group, said America is on the wrong track.
The Institutes 12th edition of The State of Working America says the country has endured a lost decade ripe with uneven and stalled wages, and a slow recovery from the recession.
The publication points the finger at economic policies that favor the rich, which have low- and middle-income families struggling.
The median household lost wealth between 1983 and 2010 and had just $57,000 in net worth in 2010, rather than the $119,000 it would have had if wealth had grown equally across all households over this period, an EPI statement says.
Economy analyst Michael Hicks disagrees. The associate professor of economics at Ball State University said the notion that government is to blame is fallacious. He said income disparities primarily are the result of employment and education choices people make.
The days of low-skill, high-wage jobs are gone, as is the absence of foreign competition, Hicks said.
This is more about the disappearance of those manufacturing jobs, which enabled people to be middle-class, said Hicks, also director of the universitys Center for Business and Economic Research. You also have to look at socioeconomic factors.
However the EPIs book is digested, the fact is fewer people consider themselves middle-class and the lower-class is increasing, said Rich Morin, a senior editor with the Pew Research Center in Washington, D.C.
Were in the boomerang generation, where (young adults) are moving back in with their parents, Morin said.
Maybe the 20-somethings will see better times, but not so much for folks in their 60s.
Even so, Morin said people tend to have an optimistic view when pondering the economys long-term prospects.
Peoples perceptions are generally good, he said. That is clear in our data from our recent surveys.
Cash said people need to keep their heads up.
I dont get into politics and all that, he said. I had some opportunities early in life and didnt take them, but that was my fault. Ive been an electrical worker, had a small business once and a janitor. I can do a little bit of everything. Thats why I have the job I have.