Ninety percent of Americans fear stagnant wages, high prices

A human skeleton where the facial expression seems to indicate feelings of shock and awe.

American families have cut expenses to the bone, but stagnant wages still make keeping up with inflation impossible for the middle class. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)

A corporate information service called American Pulse recently conducted a survey that shows how far the U.S. job market has fallen into the mire of class distinction. As the Huffington Post notes, 90 percent of U.S. workers surveyed admitted that they do not expect their stagnant wages to be able to compensate for rising gas and food prices.

‘Permanent midnight’ for the middle class

As the American middle class continues to sink beneath mountains of debt, rising prices and inadequate pay en route to a “permanent midnight” of poverty, faith in U.S. government’s economic policies has declined. Talk of rising inflation and a double-dip recession continues, and families who can ill afford to tighten the belt any more wonder where they can cut back. Provided salaries remain at low levels and prices continue to skyrocket, survey respondents said they’d undergo greater austerity measures in the following areas:

  • Only buying necessities: confirmed by 70.5 percent
  • Infrequent driving: 63.4 percent
  • Spending less on clothes: 58.9 percent
  • More bargain hunting: 53.1 percent
  • Tightening the personal budget: 50.0 percent
  • Buying generic: 49.9 percent
  • Buying fewer groceries: 42.0 percent
  • No change: 6.6 percent

Adieu, gross domestic product

Historically, consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the United States’ gross domestic product. Significant decreases in consumer spending retard economic growth. As the consumer spending growth rate of 2.2 percent in the first quarter of 2011 was much lower than economists had anticipated, the problem becomes obvious.

Nearly half of Americans believe a second Great Depression is rapping at the chamber door, according to a CNN poll. A June Gallup poll reflected shrinking consumer confidence, while a separate poll found that workers are currently less satisfied with their salaries and overall economic condition than they were before recession struck in 2008. Lack of career advancement was a common problem listed by respondents in nearly all recent surveys on the topic.

Breaking the link between profits and raises

Getting a raise used to have some connection to corporate profits, notes Brad Delong in Mother Jones. However, even though U.S. Department of Labor research has shown that U.S. worker productivity has surged, income has remained stagnant for most Americans. Data indicates that if the median U.S. household income had kept pace with the state of the economy since 1970, it would currently be $92,000, rather than $50,000. U.S. CEOs are making more money than they have since 2007.

How to ask for a raise, just in case


American Pulse


Economic Policy Institute

Huffington Post

Mother Jones