Monday, November 21, 2016

Working Class, Poor, and other such things

A somewhat short and perhaps disjointed post.

First, the working class. I had a dispute with someone on twitter about this. Here is my view.

At this point, a reminder. I am Canadian. I therefore write from the Canadian perspective to a Canadian audience. I always try to keep things accessible, but there may be things unique to Canada that do not apply elsewhere that I'm missing. Despite that, I strongly feel that this issue is one where Canada, the US, and the UK are all in the same boat. I'm less sure if this applies in Australia and NZ however.

Here is an interesting image from EKOS.

Notice how stable numbers were up until the great recession. Sadly, I can't find numbers from before this, but in general, the people I've spoken to say the same thing.

There wasn't really a "working class" here the same way there was in Britain, for example.

Important is that this is self-rated. Why is that important?
Frankly, it's an income thing.

15 years ago the general view of the income classes in canada was that there was a large "lower middle" class. Nowadays, that class is tiny, if not outright gone.

According to statscan, with the most recent data I could find
You can divide Canada into 10 groups each containing 10% of the population.

The poorest 10% have a family income, every year, of $9,300 - 98% of their income 4 years ago
Second is $21,800 - 104% of their income 4 years ago
Third is $31,100 - 103%
Fourth is $40,200 - 103%
Fifth is $50,000 - 105%
Sixth is $61,300 - 106%
Seventh is $74,300 - 105%
Eight is $90,900 - 105%
Ninth is $114,400 - 105%
Tenth is $186,500 - 104%

You may also notice a massive gap between the married, or, those with children (economic families) and single people (non-economic families)
The average married/children income went up by 106%
The average unmarried/single income went up by 101%

You can also adjust the table with advance options.
Some 'fun' facts:
Between 1976 and 2014 the total increase in average income for all groups combined was 121.65%
Between 1991 and 2014 the increase was 131.02%, as, incomes had fallen between 1976 and 1991.

Here is where it gets interesting.
Since 1991 the change for the lowest decile has been 96.88%. They've been getting poorer. The biggest cut came between 1991 and 1998, and again after 2008.
The second decile has only change 117.84% since 1991. Every richer group changed by at least 121.48% in the same period.
They also changed 120.44% since 1998, while every richer group changed at least 122.19%.
We see the same in 2003, with 110.66% vs 112.29%.

There's another jump between the fourth and fifth, with groups 4th or below gaining by a smaller amount. 121.82% vs 122.85% since 1991, 122.19% vs 124.38% in 1998, 112.29% vs 113.90% in 2003, and 103.34% vs 104.17% in 2008.
It is this critical and growing gap that is causing the current "problems" we are seeing.

Ontario numbers are even more stark.

Between 1991 and 2014 the changed by 82.7%, literally becoming poorer. (I note that these numbers do not seem to include inflation?? they might, but if they don't that's daming)
Gains by the 4th and lower maxed out at 113.9% while the 5th and above were at least 116.2%


What does all that mean?

Put simply, that 33% to 40% of Canadians are in a bad way economically.

Groups that once thought of themselves as middle class are seeing the remainder of the middle class pull away from them financially. It's becoming more and more clear that this group is being ignored.

Here is the single key fact I want you all to take away from this.
Trudeau pledged to cut taxes for those making more than $44,700.

The upper limit for income of this 40% group - meaning if you make less than this you are in that group - is as follows

$44,100 in Atlantic Canada
$43,800 in Quebec
$51,200 in Ontario ($39,500 for the 3rd decile)
$62,000 in the Prairies ($46,600 for the 3rd decile)
$47,400 in BC ($36,500 for the 3rd decile)
$49,600 Canada Wide ($38,500 for the 3rd decile)

This means that this tax cut does not even touch the 35% of Canadians too poor to qualify.

There was a time where almost anyone could get a job if they tried hard enough. Today that's not the case.
There are, literally, people who are, today, unemployable. They were born with low levels of energy, and so are seen as "lazy". They were not gifted with intelligence, and so are seen as "stupid". They are uncoordinated, make mistakes, and may suffer from mental illness like depression.
Employers don't want these people, and with the labour market the way it is in most cities, they don't need to hire any of them.
They are not unemployed, they are unemployable.
This is something that, while it has existed for some time, has been getting worse since the great recession.
These people make upwards of 10% of the population.
There is another group, who make 20% to 30% of the population who lack skills, who lack experience, who lack training, and who lack, in some cases, the ability to do more complex tasks. These are people who are not only stuck in "dead end jobs", but who truly feel like they will always be stuck in "dead end jobs" and don't have the power to do anything about it.

I don't have exact numbers, but these two groups combined make up between 1/3rd and 2/5ths of the population in Canada, and similar numbers in the USA. These are people who have little to no hope for the future. They look at the changing workforce and see every single job that they are capable of doing being replaced with automation. At the same time they look at people who have stable jobs. Most of these people are older. The median age in Canada is near 40. The last time most of the folks who have the "good jobs" had to apply for a job was prior to the great recession. They lived in a time where if you tried hard enough you could get a job, and therefore, they think this is still the case.

This is no longer the case.

As such, we are currently in, and headed for, a showdown between the 40% who are effectively unemployable, and the 60% who think that if this is the case, it must be the fault of that 40%.

Remember too that this comes at the same time as the shift to new-right and new-left.
If you've read my posts on the New-Right and New-Left before, I uurge you to do so again, as I fix the links and add more detail to some of them.

Politics is changing, and there's now a large minority of the population who, if they are not already, will be becoming enraged that 'the system' is failing them.

Politics is headed to a place it's not between since between WW1 and WW2.
If something is not done within the new few years, in both Canada and the USA, events like this may become commonplace.

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