Monday, April 07, 2008

now I know why we're called the middle class

How does it feel to be squeezed, stuck in the middle between a rock and a hard place? Gas is up. Oil is up. Healthcare is up. Groceries are up. Tuition is up. And our income, well it's up too, but not so much. I just got my annual review (outstanding in all categories!) and my raise. Which was the maximum allowed, at 2.5%. I have no complaints about my job. And no complaints about my general income. It's just that it seems I'm losing ground all the time.

I make more each year, but my expenses always increase at about 3 times the rate of my salary increases. And I'm one of the truly lucky ones. I get the max amount of raise every time. And because my base is so high, the percentage actually means I get a measurable increase.

What the hell would we do if we made the median income for Baltimore City for a family? Right now, that median income is somewhere around $39,000 a year. 2.5% of that is $975. At 24 pay periods a year, that comes to $40 a paycheck before taxes. That doesn't even cover a tank of gas every two weeks. How will people live? What the hell happens to the local economy if the largest employer in the state is handing out 2.5% raises, leaving the bulk of their employees poorer than the year before?

Most folks are not sitting on large saving accounts. If they are lucky they have a house, with a mortgage, and a car, with a loan. For the last few years, people counted on home equity to cover them in a pinch. Now it is possible that their house is worth less than they owe.

So, if good economic times "lift all boats" as the Republicans like to claim, what do bad times do? Are we all gonna sink together? I'm guessing that yachts have life rafts....

No comments: