WWL>Topics>>5-6-14 1:10pm Angela: on the disappearing middle class

5-6-14 1:10pm Angela: on the disappearing middle class

May 6, 2014|

Angela talks about the disappearance of the middle class in America with Joel Devine of Tulane University as well as Bill Habeney, Cat Randon, and Mark Menard, who all deal with the problems confronting the shrinking middle class.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Another perfect day and I hope that you fun. I made that email request store gift to log give new rule out Nolan give Nolan do you acknowledge what we did yesterday. They are almost at that million dollar mark your ten dollar donation to any of 300. Nonprofits. Could possibly tip them over a hope you'll think about it it's a real community event and it just helping 300 great organizations. Well we are on to what I think are three very good shows. The first and we have been not wanting to do for a long time and was motivated by young man who works year. So it's about the middle class. What is happening to America's middle class. It's not a pretty picture. Nearly half of middle class households. Live paycheck to paycheck. Nearly 45%. Of households. Earning fifty to a 150000. Dollars a year spent all or more of their monthly earnings each month. And medium per capita income in the United States has barely budged since 2000. But while salaries stagnate. Cost of the essential. Continue to rise. They didn't happen overnight there is a complexity of reasons why our middle class has shrunk and deciphering. There's been a growing disappearance of jobs that once allowed people without a college degree to enter the middle class. And there's a significant disparity. Between the average US workers and come and CEO pay. Thirty years ago the ratio was 4621. Today it is 33121. But what does it all means. That's why we're going to find out from those who are living on the experience. Of the changing shape of America's middle class. Joining us to talk about their lives mark Menard pianist wife for both college educated in their thirties no children. Mark is one of our sports casters -- double to the -- radio. And his wife is a teacher. Captain Brenden has worked at children's hospital for 22 years her husband is an accountant they -- two teenage children. And bill happening who was at 57. Was forced to retire after a career with AT&T. Out with not quite enough money to truly retire on so he has recreated himself. And we will also be joined by phone by jewel DeVine a professor of sociology. At Tulane University. I can't thank you'll enough everybody for being here mister DeVine we're gonna get to you. I think this is a subject that taps in to what's happening in many many people's lives. And I'm gonna give all the credit to mark Menard because we're always looking for show ideas we've been talking about this and he walked up one day and said you know what. My wife and nine both work. Live the good life but now we're at a point where we're having to cut back in I want to take me back to that. -- And and the bills are becoming overwhelming and so we've been -- discussing. You know what can we cut back on and and word. On the verge of you getting rid of cable television because it's the only monthly bill we have that we can to without. He can't cut back on water he can't cut back on gas you can't cut back on electricity. It you know that's really the only luxury that we pay for every month and so. Whereabouts of do away with the just so we can kind of make ends meet because you were -- Pain paying the bills month to month and were living paycheck to paycheck and it's difficult for and we and we both work and we don't have any kids. So I can't imagine you know if we had kids in the tuition to pay I don't know I don't know we would do. Cat ran twenty years to hospital your husband is an accountant to have two teenage girls one girl one boy. And all of a sudden you're seeing your life differently. -- you know we we actually thought we -- -- have markets. But it does get typical that we we -- you know so proud of two teenagers died. It is expensive. We choose to send them to -- Catholic high schools. And it is not cheap and and and then you know nail him we have our oldest is driving. And there's insurance -- there's college I mean we we worry about a lot of these things that. I don't know if parents worried about. And it bigger families -- one of five hasn't won six. So where where hunt at a stage -- we TUR looking cutting back on the gym membership. Was canceled. We've we've canceled that. The water delivery to the house and were. My husband does -- at that he's gonna sell one advocates kidneys. -- -- not -- -- But there is a market you know. Laughing it's not funny her and now. I guess for both of you I think it. I'm gonna go on Monica on the wonderful man because here you march AT&T and you were -- for many years. Our views 35 years and at age 57 today. Offered you write them a carton back and now they offered incentive pay outs though I'm headed ought to get ready get marriage testimony grab this and senate today and and they gave me lump sum to leave plus incentive and found a good financial advisor and let him. In testimony form and then. But I still wasn't gonna live the life that I had been limbs so we decided to. Start his business aired it seems that Thomas started gaining. And I'm gonna get to that because I think it's spectacular what you're doing. But I think the point is it. This was right around the tough economic time geographic tenth 20082009. Right and and enter the economy was going in the tank. Yeah it was a big decision to leave but I thought it was the best thing to do. And and yet and it -- a shame in a similar than you are at a certain age it's a little tougher to get a job. Oh yeah yeah so when it's not asked to leave essentially you're given this opportunity to leave right 57 and isn't like let me go. Right I had a start thinking for myself what I could do in I was and just pretty good at or over the years and work at it aggressively -- The day after retarded it. I started the damned tired went oh Kellie craft -- and in history. And that's them and you can the -- be doing now. So you. When you were working for eighteen -- you weren't thinking of the second career out now and -- -- -- their cars long as I could you know sing and I think that's the point I think. That we have. Hopefully. Not completely but I think sadly in many ways are looking at situations were people don't. Have the expectation of being with the company for their entire time very and you know right or wrong I think it's just the way that it isn't so we're having to think a little differently. Right and I'm I'm putting it aside because the other two cats and mark I think really represented here in your thirties during your forties. And we have an image of what you know do you strive for you go to school you get the job you work hard. And it's supposed to be something that's a safety net and what we're really saying is it's not. That's correct content and -- And you know I'm I'm fortunate that I -- you work for companies that is pays well and and takes care of its employees but I I ran. About eight years ago started a business and eyes so I have a part time job that Colin mice second fund job. And I love it I I don't think I would change it. And at the beginning I was able to use -- of that money we went on trips you know we would go to the beach -- in Florida. For the summer or you know we went to Kaplan are for -- are. But now it's increasingly that we have to use that money to subsidize. What we bring -- Injured your teenagers get older even and initially said you're thinking about college where he began with that X and helmets -- and I were just talking about gesture car insurance for your teenagers. Has to be the national -- yes it is and luckily the second child doesn't wanna drive yet but I mean. I'm looking at just little things like ACT crap is 450 dollars so she can. She can you know learning how to take the task that's gonna get her enter college or. Everyone -- to have. Drivers net well that's it that's like three or 400 dollars how to people paint this if they. They aren't in in this area like how do you learn how to drive if you can't afford drivers it like. You know that's what confuses me it's all these little things that and up to a lot. -- Stay with -- everyone we're talking about. The middle class what's happening to attempt when it's morphing into. And we would love to hear from you that number is 260187. Stay with us. Well we are talking about what's happening to the middle class. I'm hearing some pretty. Specific stories but I think representative of a lot of people in what's going on. We're now joined by. Jolt DeVine who is say professor of sociology. At Tulane university and I appreciate you that you joining answer Q thank you -- want to be where you. You can't listen to the stories of captain bill and to mark and just your thoughts. Well I think. Their respective stories -- so goes the reality. Confronting you know tens of millions of Americans and these things where. I users allegedly. Out of recession. And still -- the instability. And while others certain signs that things are improving in terms of -- mark Victor roping steers. And in some respects the inevitable. And so there's certain -- And these are among people who were working. From -- story he was. Part of AT&T'S downsizing. Seems to -- -- on its feet now it's -- I mean nobody must've been on let's put it that as an understatement. Wars can't confront the reality putting two daughters to college in the near future. Expand there and -- generalized instability in after realize that. In some sense we're looking at a group of people were real to -- In coaching. -- ten million families in this country where at least one of the people was unemployed. And that still almost five years from recession. And a lot of these sorts of elements this shrinking in the middle class the seriousness. Really harking back to shoot the mid seventies that's -- -- third season beauty he'd be changes. For career economy. And in a lot of respects we could sort of mask them until recent recession. And then home obviously millions of people employed. And the capacity to find work was limited. For young people coming -- college preschool. Home it was not a group welcoming labor market. Wages are depressed. Hand. These things. -- to do so in practical -- that commute. -- last at least in the United States. Is via its aspiration. As well as certain reality. Of achievement. And that's one of things truly being challenged the idea that. -- your kid my cheated. Or in the case of -- Work. Just doesn't have kids -- on Israel to young. Is his future how's -- can compare with certainly -- expectations or maybe -- parents were that it is he sure. You know ten years older and this is all part that. Unsettling aspect because as. -- -- Things get better and it's just too short for me be at home problems were you know recessions past. It is long past and those sorts of things haven't been drizzle to. Heard me mention something joked that enter hitting on an went when the recession hit -- in a -- -- this country to -- Sunnis and and you're talking about the tens of million to people who lost their jobs. But for those who kept their jobs -- ultimately got jobs back to certain degree there was there was just a sense and -- gross generalization. That. It winds you gonna do more for lasts. And and are gonna keep things just riding along don't think in terms of of -- annual increases and that kind of thing and the reason I'm saying that it is a multitude of reasons that. And it happened that in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. There was an article that the title was wage pressure begins to build I wanna read this one -- Employee compensation as a share of national income. Has fallen to its lowest point since 1951. At 66%. While profits rose to a level not seen since around the same time. And about 16%. And this is from the State Street global advisors it's anyway. It just opened my eyes to exactly all a little pieces we've been looking at about what is happening. Stack the salaries if you're lucky enough to have a job. Yet business is getting better but we're not seeing reflected in salaries or order it or employment Koppel with. The rising price which market -- everything has gone out food has gone out gasoline is gone out. Everything is going up but the salaries are remaining missing. And and it's creepy. Yeah real wages have been depressed for quite some time in as you said it's generalization. Because what we looked at you know -- -- that we can see this doing there and those are trends that really. Have blossomed in recent years but they go back again that sort of watershed being around mid seventies. When our labor market. And structure are completely changed and you know things like industrialization. That in. On home and confused I mean are we out manufacturing jobs nine million outsourcing. Jobs. Lost my home and the aspirations in the US system that after World War II was essentially unchallenged. And was able to produce in middle class lifestyle. On the strength -- one arms and back worked into the factory and your kids could go to college. And they would be -- clearly middle class in every marker. And that's what you wrote it your -- for so many you know we get. These differential. Pay off if you will obviously two home to property. And home but also mean. People with higher education are doing much better than those who have lesser education. And in almost all respects such -- salary -- lower rate of unemployment. Shorter duration of unemployment all the sort of thinks it is really is increasing bifurcation. Where home. Lot of people really sort of dropping out or being pushed out. Of the middle class and down and people's perceptions of course reflect that. People are understanding the dynamics in their own experiences and and for those of us who -- now fortunately. -- some of those things it's still be highly insecure threatening environment. And it has social and political implications as well. Well I want everyone to stay with this we're gonna continue this conversation about the middle class we hope that you join us. Again the numbers 260187. -- Will be back right after the news. Well we're talking about the change that's happened over a period of time it isn't just since the recession but his son. As our sociologist at -- DeVine has just said it's been coming. The we lost a lot of manufacturing jobs -- outsourced a lot of jobs jobs across the ocean. And and it's just a shift but it's just becoming more difficult I think for people to live on salaries that one or not changing. And as we heard from mark Menard. And if you're too hard working people and everybody in this room was hard working people. I think they've just been an expectation in May view we have to change your expectations. I wanna continue with chilled but before we do bill pattern. Who worked for AT&T for 31 years. To me. When you say you recreate yourself did the most incredible thing. Because I had literally the day after he left he -- I'm gonna get a new job. And look what you did a much until people which you do. Well there after I left I went to oak Alley plantation in a craft festival that brought some sketches that I had there and I figured okay this from the start -- not I had the talent I just had to take the time to put it together. Then and I started Walken magazine street walked through the quarter -- had a vote to box mom. Artwork -- it and yet a lot of rejection at first but you -- just got to keep going into you find somebody who believe Sonya. Incessant -- and when I realized that the Florida Lee's been around for 600 years. Start put my brick and flawed beliefs and people buy him I think he could put a trash can afford -- in my -- I know but but unfortunately radio you're not seeing that magnificent work that he's doing that is whether it's neighborhoods -- schools whether it's Children's Hospital with -- it's to it's it's heart yeah and it's you know it's nostalgia people like nostalgia like the beach. Mist of Angolan economy is on the launch though they're looking for something to hold on to from the past and this is a simple. Piece of artwork that they can grab onto it then cost life. And it just makes them happy schools are violence and Lehman the high school -- new law and so a star put high schools and -- and that took off you know well. I just wanna say that that we found built to a friend of his -- and -- this is a quote from him he said. It's a story you know bill it's a story about how we can creatively adapt to changing times by believing in ourselves. You're talking about people believe and want their. Past it's -- believing in yourself -- and so. Well my wife had a lot to do that seat she thought she saw something there and side just took and went with it. And now you're making a -- bright and good thing. Right right right as well yeah it actually doesn't slow -- -- slow days defending us and good days you know I'm very glad that I went with deaths. Okay we're gonna take some callers. Let's talk to James calling from Houston good. Hi James. Right. Are basically I was listening in and I'd -- this kind of funny because this like a lot of people just was out there and that you know all this doom and gloom that's out there and the market hasn't fully recovered -- certain all these other sort. And it's nice to hear that you got that in -- for a -- at 31 years and and -- passionate and and you know it living. So that's great and it's -- everybody that's been -- they've been talking so far. I've actually got two teenage daughters -- teaching hours. I want -- just recently graduated college and -- -- -- rated important college. And and go through and just listening to you know if if one thing comes disappear and we just have to adapt to it that we have to go through and continuously make the change that and there are four again but enough money for school. Although we have to realize that the forty and it's time for school. If only one year to get record and that means. You know all the gym membership probably have been some that we did. Five years before that -- Ers then but I mean people continuously look at paralyzing and -- Technology has taken on the role of saying okay we're gonna go through and -- cellphone company's report -- -- or -- without a second pot. Just because that thing to do. For some of -- -- -- -- you know pay off credit Carter are about ready for college and as just got to look at what we're going out there. Don't you could you're absolutely correct and I think that these people are I think that's the message I'm hearing from both Martin cat. You know there's not to be 82 -- two people working. Not living extravagantly. Having no children and not able to save money. Ego during up and look at. There all the people go to and so it will work on the government subsidies and and food stamps and that and that. Take my teacher quote United States Marine Corps corporal -- for apple would want. I'd been in record for correct. Six and perhaps in -- -- -- -- dramatic that was fifteen almost four years old. And we -- up and take what they called the way equipment incident children to be able to get milk and cheese on on on. On the table and now so that it goes through and or do we go through and give government assistance to people that needed work. Should we maybe be in the scoreboard you know a little more money to begin it. So we doubt -- ethnic groups so. Egypt is one of those things that's out there you really have to stop and think now -- if you achieve people working and you can't make any kind of -- What with living and achieve it's what's wrong with. You know what happened. Dinner tonight as Mac and -- her Red -- maybe once every there Ers like I mean. Mark wanna comment on that holed -- -- I can say that you know me in my wife both. You know we both have full time job she's a teacher I work here at the radio station. And we don't live extravagantly you know Mac. -- -- staple in our office. You know like us that he can't there's certain things you can't cut back on which you get down to the bare essentials you know water gas and you're paying your mortgage and its electricity. There's not a lot left there -- to cut back on it because you need groceries you gotta -- you need -- you got to get to and from work. You know -- I don't I don't know where else we can go from here. Once -- once we get rid of television. Unless it's a second job -- hate to say that that particular moment. Exactly. Working their decision and actually going to be listening to a picnic that 87. But that -- it is a great way to go back and eleven listening to. And it did it was -- -- church and you can actually make it true and delivering pizzas. And don't want public debt was actually gone in part -- were being critical as -- record at a rate. And I'm going through and making all this money and over. That's picture that was actually going to pay for the big prizes for Wells Fargo and -- and -- by the Oakland. It's just it's just amazing. Free money actually have now. Being portfolio actually can be attached well course second daughter's college. Yeah we never -- ready for that. Well -- and he is a great guy he's a little later but thank you James for calling from Houston. Two Jill and mark and bill and cat. What are your concerns now mean moving forward I can't you were saying and commercially you are just. We are and -- you know this is -- given us. The reason don't look at our finances and look at the way we spend our money in and I don't know by all but. They are a lot of things out there that. Debit take money out of your account that you approved but that may -- you forget about. It's that not even -- gym membership may be. You know there's things when they started updates seem like a good idea but like them. Among the ones some months kind of -- dollars something like that that you just the cat that you DA. I was at -- of that the other day taken up some medicine and I realized that day debit -- Credit card every month it's a small amount because I'm on this. Client well. Maybe. I'm just gonna have to pay cash for their -- that visit instead of paying per month in and saving that 10% you know it's looking at those things. It I think this is it is so easy to just say he had just taken out of my bank account every month and it and really I think we've. We've wasted money doing that not really pay -- attention and then also. -- cook more. We don't eat out more which is actually nice because we spent time together we cut out the -- guy and we're able to how that. -- it's slow but. Half the family will help with the law and older fan you know people -- yet it it gets -- to -- and and gets us out there were doing something has a Stanley which it you know isn't always easy it. Let that will be right back stay with us everyone and give us a call 260187. Well we're talking about the change we are all living in the middle class and I wanna go back to mark as you were the originators of this and and some of your thoughts. I think you know. I'm I'm in my mid thirties and growing up you know you're always told. Indeed you you'd do well school you go to college and get a degree in the -- go and you get the job and you know. If you work hard you can achieve a certain level of comfort in America. And I think that that's what we're losing and that's what worries me is that. You know. Times are changing and in such that. The regular person is not. Being allowed to achieve what they used to be able to achieve. You know. Them the upper 1%. Their salaries keep going up -- and everybody else kinda gets left out in the cold and I'm not sure what we do to change it but. You know something's changed to where we got to this point and if we could backtrack and find out. You know what that is the only language to get back to the American dream the way. Supposed to -- I think it's probably many things I think that it truly complexity but one thing that I have noticed is that. In the effort to survive in the intimate profits we become very profit oriented. And again is I always say I am a proud capitalist I would be nothing else but I think that the American. American businesses and industries. Part of why they exist is to make money and part of why they exist it's too. To help keep America strong which is done by keeping employees happy employees have to make. Up managers happy to. But we've kind of lost that I know that's a generalization but there are many companies that are good to report but there are many were there just make in the book. And the people don't have the loyalty. And they walk out the -- And then they have to go find something else. That's what I wish we had back it it isn't ever going to be you know 19451955. But it can be better than it he has and I truly hope. For the marks of the world. That that does come I mean you. Because you are good employed I mean -- people who work hard should benefit very quickly let this go to Bryant. Bryant. Yeah Angela. It is. That -- and he hopes to think. That. And. It has been pretty. -- -- -- And he didn't like. You know. All. That. Good bit but. It. -- Did you see a lot of. Ironic now that that's exactly right in and maybe that's her. Did. You think that we've -- in. Atlanta and it. -- -- -- -- Well Brian I appreciate your call very much always listen and never hesitate to call we have to take another break we'll be right back. Class of one it's going through and I like some final. Brief thoughts from Joey DeVine who is from Tulane University -- Hello Joan. You hearing yes pressure can just some quick final thought to what we've been talking about. Well I think we're gonna face these problems for some time to -- As the economy goes through some pretty significant changes. It and you know your callers suggested. People can cut and I guess would be for many of us will it will have to do. Com that doesn't actually change the question at hand I mean cutting back is probably a good thing to do. In our personal household budgets. Of course the irony is as we -- do that. It worse for the important role. Which is driven on consumption. Com. But the question you'd start with in terms of people falling on the middle class certainly is -- themselves as such. On what that means is you know after cutting back your lifestyle which I'm not opposed to which just that. At a certain point home. You know that -- in this era to want to back to drop out of the middle class has won. At least gives away or surrenders those markers. No -- no easy answer to any of those children on I truly appreciate you being with us. Cat Brandon as well good luck with the two kids that are going to college. Bill we knew we aspire. It went after night you're 62 year in a new business you're doing great and it's heritage scenes by WJ happening and you're going to be at the. Over the lake fest -- -- town this weekend Saturday from our noon to 1030 at night that a lot of bands and good food out there and you need to see his work its spectacular marker and aren't. You more precious and you and -- did just fine and you got that fabulous wife and you'll go to work this out. You know I appreciate I appreciate the support that I -- your support system thank you all very much I want everyone -- -- -- we get to our shows.