As noted by CapTimes reporter Mike Ivey, a new report by the Pew Charitable Trust showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the nation in the percentage of families considered to be middle class.
If you feel like you’re working harder for less money, it’s not your imagination.
Wisconsin ranks worst among the 50 states in terms of a shrinking middle class, with real median household incomes here falling 14.7 percent since 2000, according to a new report.
The Pew Charitable Trust report showed Wisconsin with the largest decline in the percentage of families considered “middle class,” or those earning between 67 and 200 percent of their state’s median income.
In 2000, 54.6 percent of Wisconsin families fell into the middle class category but that has fallen to 48.9 percent in 2013, according to U.S. Census figures compiled by Pew.
All other states showed some decline but none as great as Wisconsin’s 5.7 percent figure.
The results of the Pew report should come as no shock to those of us here in Wisconsin who’ve felt the full weight of Gov. Scott Walker’s attack on the middle class thanks to Act 10. After all, a vast majority of public employees are middle class wage earners, and the provisions of Act 10 empowered Gov. Walker and his Republican allies in the Legislature to further cut the take-home pay of public employees beyond the cuts those public employees had endured thanks to furloughs under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle. In fact, I know a number of public employees whose take home pay is less now than it was nearly ten years ago (in some cases by nearly ten percent), and many of those solidly middle class public employees could ill afford a cut in their take home pay.
While Gov. Walker’s main purpose in “dropping the bomb” that was Act 10 on public employees may have been to weaken public employee unions politically, one of the most destructive side effects of Act 10 was the weakening of Wisconsin’s middle class. It’s widely accepted that a strong middle class with plenty of disposable income grows the economy far better than the trickle down theory of giving tax cuts to the richest individuals and corporations, and here in Wisconsin we’re seeing that fact borne out in the struggles our state’s middle class are facing.
It’s my hope that at some point during the 2016 Republican presidential primaries Gov. Scott Walker is going to have to answer for his absolutely miserable record on job creation and growing Wisconsin’s economy. As proof of Gov. Walker’s absolutely miserable record, one needs not look very far, whether it’s his record of creating more low-wage jobs than middle-wage jobs, or the fact that the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the quasi-public job creation agency created by Gov. Walker, sent millions of tax dollars to companies that outsourced jobs to foreign countries. And don’t overlook the fact that Gov. Walker’s job creation corporation also failed to track whether 99 businesses were repaying a total of $8 million in past-due loans over the course of a year. The $8 million in overdue loans the WEDC lost track of constituted 16% of that agency’s $51 million loan portfolio.
That’s not the kind of job creation record I’d want to have if I were running for president, and given the fact that Republicans control all three branches of government in Wisconsin, Gov. Walker has no one to blame but himself for his absolutely miserable record on job creation and the economy. However, Gov. Walker has been quite successful in shrinking Wisconsin’s middle class, which no doubt will play well with with folks like the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson, who are the very people who may decide which Republican will be that party’s nominee in 2016.