Job = Just Over Broke

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

If you are fortunate enough to have a job in America today, the phrase "just over broke" probably describes you.  Yes, there are a handful of jobs that certainly pay very well, but most Americans that work for somebody else are just barely making it from month to month.  More than half of all working Americans are living paycheck to paycheck, and more than half of all working Americans make less than $30,000 a year.  That is an amazing statistic but it is actually true.  Once upon a time, anyone that was responsible and that was willing to work hard could get a good job in America.  But now those days are long gone.  Instead, we live at a time when good jobs are disappearing and when the middle class is getting smaller with each passing year.  In some homes, the husband and the wife are both working multiple jobs and they can still barely pay their bills.  Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet our leaders just keep telling us how wonderful our economy is.

One of the biggest things that has killed jobs in this country is the fact that the U.S. economy has been steadily merged into the emerging one world economic system over the past several decades.  They call it "free trade", but they never told us that we would be merged into a single global labor pool where we would be competing directly for jobs with workers on the other side of the planet that live in nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

According to Gallup, only about 1.3 billion people around the world work full-time for an employer at this point.

But overall there are more than 7 billion people.

That means that there are a whole lot of really poor, really desperate people that need to be employed.

This has been wonderful for the big corporations.  They can just take jobs away from American workers and give them to people who are willing to work for less than a tenth of what an American worker would make.  This has resulted in the systematic deindustrialization of the United States and horrific decline in dozens of formerly great manufacturing cities.

At the same time, we have also been losing millions of middle class jobs to technology.  At this point, robots are even starting to replace warehouse workers and fast food employees.  As robots become even more advanced and become even cheaper to produce, there will be less jobs available for the rest of us.

And what happens when robots can do everything better than us?

Because there are fewer middle class jobs available, the competition for the remaining jobs has become incredibly intense.  In recent years, millions of Americans have been forced to take just about anything that they can get.  For those Americans, "just over broke" has become "just trying to survive" as they scratch and claw their way through life.

A recent CNBC article profiled one such individual.  His name is Ken Bowman, and his job at a guitar shop just barely enables him to pay his rent and feed himself...

Ken Bowman joins the line for a free lunch in the Youngstown Salvation Army canteen, just like he does every Friday.


Looking younger than his 21 years, his hair dyed jet black and wearing big, battered boots, Bowman plays heavy metal on his cell phone. He chooses a seat at the end of a table and sits hunched over his tray, his blues eyes furtively sweeping the room. The others sit in packs, regulars who've formed lunchtime friendships over their burnt coffee and peppered corn, discussing the jobs they once had and the government benefits they no longer get.


Bowman is sensitive to the stigma of accepting handouts like lunch. "[It] doesn't mean you're homeless or poor, people have standards but they struggle," he said, his chin jutting out, his eyes glowering.


After paying his rent, Bowman says his job in a guitar shop leaves him with $50 a month to live on — if he can get shifts. He is one of America's "underemployed," a group of as many as 11 million Americans struggling to survive in society's shadows on wages that put them below the federal poverty line.

There are millions of others out there just like Bowman.  In fact, as I mentioned in a previous article, one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.  The "working poor" is a phrase that describes a very large segment of the U.S. population today.

And the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of the country is steadily getting poorer.  According to a study recently discussed in the New York Times, the "typical American household" is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.  That is a staggering decline in just ten years.

Meanwhile, the cost of living continues to rise.  This is something that I have discussed repeatedly, but sometimes a picture can say things far better than any words can.

The photo posted below has been floating around on Twitter.  It is of a McDonald's menu from the 1960s.  As you can see, prices have gone up a little bit since then...

Inflation - McDonald's

Most people think that I am crazy when I tell them that I can remember a cup of coffee being sold for a quarter when I was young.  But it is true.  Over the long-term, our purchasing power has been systematically destroyed by the insane polices of the Federal Reserve.

Sadly, most Americans don't understand any of this.  They just trust that our leaders actually know what they are doing.  Meanwhile, they just keep on struggling to survive in an economic system that is stacked against them.

According to one recent study, 40 percent of all households in the United States are experiencing financial stress right now and the homeownership rate for Americans under the age of 35 is at an all-time low.

In the old days, if you got your education, worked hard and did all the right things, it was just about an automatic ticket to the middle class.

Today it doesn't work like that.

Instead, more Americans than ever are being forced to become dependent on the government.  If you can believe it, Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

So it astounds me whenever I hear anyone say that the economy is in "good shape".

How can it be in "good shape" when one out of every three adults in the United States has an unpaid debt that is "in collections" and there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity?

The truth is that we are in the midst of a long-term economic decline that is the result of decades of incredibly foolish decisions.

Until the American people start understanding what has happened to us, they are never going to demand real change that actually accomplishes something.

*  *  *

And then there's this...

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wee-weed up's picture

Vice Dictator, Joe Biden, says the Obozo Admin has created a gazillion jobs!

TeamDepends's picture

Shovel ready green shoot $20/hr miracle recovery just around the corner.

Cliff Claven Cheers's picture

This would explain who makes the rules in the country and who benefits and it isn't the worker:

Study: You Have 'Near-Zero' Impact on U.S. Policy

opens in a new window:  your vote doesn't mean shit.

Pure Evil's picture

Problem is, those gazillion jobs went to all those Central Americans crossing the border.

Shocker's picture

Lower Wages / Benefits are the majority of the new jobs being created

Job Situation:


Cliff Claven Cheers's picture

Free trade is the problem.  Putting up some trade barriers fixes the problem.  Simple.  But like the study cited above that would not benefit corporations who make the rules.  So here we are wasting our fucking time discussing what else is wrong with this fucked up country.  I am seriously considering taking my family to different country to look for better oportunities and a future for my children.   Any suggestions on a "new america" out there?

markmotive's picture

Won't have to worry about jobs for much longer. Save your energy on protecting your sh!t.

The next automation revolution threatens everyone from truck drivers to lawyers.

AldousHuxley's picture

well bunch of lawyers driving trucks now, so they are one in the same.


We are all NINJAS = No  Income No Job or Assets

RaceToTheBottom's picture

I am really fucking tired with competing with inhabitants of third world countries with the requirement that I must be 10 to 20 times more productive than them.


Fuck the CEOs.  They can be replaced by a spreadsheet.....



angel_of_joy's picture

Austria. The only decent remaining European country beyond Switzerland (but without its prices). Unfortunately, Austrians don't like foreigners very much and tend to speak German...

Cliff Claven Cheers's picture

I am sure I have some Austrian in my blood, don't I have some right of return?

NoPension's picture

I build. Drywall , 5 Hispanics show up, in one van. They work 8,9,10 hours straight, don't stop for lunch. Eat and work. Then leave, and on to the next job. These are young 17-30 yo guys. What I am charged, no one could compete and make a " normal living wage".
It used to be I had a choice. I no longer do. This is it. ALL of the trades are going this route. Little by little. Day by day. And no,absolutely NO worries about the authorities. On the contrary, because of the pain in the ass and waste of time to deal with one of these folks, the police just let them go. That's a fact. I have seen it.
Perhaps this is the way it has always been with immigration, but I'm 50, and I don't ever remember shit like this. Open borders, free trade has destroyed the working class, middle class family man.
And these guys send half their money home. Money that doesn't get recycled into our economy. And notice, home ain't here,skippy. They could give a flying fuck about the USA.
I don't know who to blame, who to direct my angst. But there are some pretty obvious candidates running the show right now.


yogibear's picture

Future Hillary voters. Came here for the welare,  EBTs, section 8 and free medical care as well as free education.

Seek_Truth's picture

"Until the American people start understanding what has happened to us, they are never going to demand real change that actually accomplishes something."

Lol. This is the problem with all of these articles. Pretending as if "the American people" DEMAND real change! That's rich!

Look, the only way to DEMAND anything in this world is to enforce the a DEMAND with violence- not just the threat of violence, no- actual violence.

Hence, the situation will continue to deteriorate, just like every other collapsing Empire.

Until a violent upheaval ( war, revolution, coup, etc) changes things for awhile. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Except this time, when change comes, it will be worldwide, and the few Prophecies that are left will be fulfilled.

At that time : "For the Scriptures say, "'As surely as I live,' says the LORD, every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will confess and give praise to God.'" - Romans 14:11

Coming soon.

de3de8's picture

All that most demand is more free shit off the free shit train. At least the free shit train car builders are fully employed.

nmewn's picture

So I ask again, if the middle class can't find a decent job to support themselves, why is amnesty even on the table?

Iriestx's picture

Because the US Chamber of Commerce pushes the Republicans to support amnesty hoping it results in drastically lower labor costs.  The Democrats are looking to swell the rolls of the FSA to guarantee a permanent electoral majority.


nmewn's picture


There is absolutely no difference in Jeb Bush's (for example) position than Hitlary's.

And another thing to contemplate, if America sucks so bad, why are "poor children" hopping trains or families paying 5k (or more) in order to get across the border?

Someone, somewhere has done a cost-benefit analysis and I'm sure it was in DC ;-)

The Most Interesting Frog in the World's picture

Which leaves no one to vote for.

nmewn's picture

Choose wisely ;-)

We could always write in Putin!

(Oh, here it

Implied Violins's picture

...better than Xi Jinping, who may become our de-facto Emperor when the Fed collapses - seeing as China now owns 20% of the US. Better we fight Russia and lose than be foreclosed on by China...Putin 2014!

nmewn's picture

Its not a static universe.

China owns US debt because they're stupid, they don't own me.

Implied Violins's picture

No, but they may try to claim the land all around you, especially if dickheads like Harry Reid keep selling out national parks for solar farms. I'm pretty certain when the dollar falls the Chinese bulldog will bark, and when those fuckers bite they don't let go.

nmewn's picture

Funny thing about claim, its like allegation. Both sides can deny or challenge, finally force rules.

I say, molon labe Chinamen, I had nothing to do with it. I've only railed against the Chinese (or anyone else) buying into it for as long as I've been on ZH.

If they think they can enforce their case against a third party, they can try ;-)

Implied Violins's picture

Hey, I just bought a Chinese SKS; I'm with you. I think they will try to get their pound of flesh somehow, and we will be hearing about it - but collection from the masses will be a bitch for sure!!

MontgomeryScott's picture


YOU are 'with him' because you bought a Chinese copy of an old Soviet weapon.

Let us now reason together, shall we?

The article you post on and speak of regards the issue of 'local job creation', in case no one noticed.

Are you a Chinese communist, or a Soviet communist, 'Implied Violins'?

You purchased a cheap knock-off of a cheap knock-off weapon (probably reverse-engineered from a Romanian variant, in fact). You have used your wealth (what little it took) and sent it to CHINA (and they reciprocated, sending their 'pound of flesh' to the former Soviet weapons manufacturers). Are you actually PROUD of your one-dimensional 'choice'? Your gun (if it actually functions) will be loose, and unable to repeat groups accurately on the target range. It is heavy. It's probably made from re-fired irons that were purchased from the 'Fresh Kills' landfill (NINE-ONE-ONE). 7.62 x 45 ammunition usually is not checked for age or 'quality assurance' (and is also made in nations that you do not obviously comprehend). THEREFORE; the need for multiple carried magazines is not only implied, but assured (due to inevitable misfires).

I don't know quite what to say regarding the rest of your idiocentric comment. Your lack of identification of the true enemies and your obvious need for self-aggrandizement (" I think they will try to get...") bring to mind the Metallica song 'Holier Than Thou'. Something about the 'Arrogance and ignorance go hand-in-hand' meme.

I have chosen to buy LOCAL.

WAR is always the least desirable of ALL political outcomes; but once it is openly declared, there will be carnage and bloodshed on a scale not imagined by those not experienced in the arts and crafts of the destruction that those who wage this war desire.

You are delving in to a subject that you think of in terms of 'hilarity'.

A bio-geneticist who has been on ZH for 10 weeks 4 days isn't going to be my 'go-to' source of 'green arrows'.

You're NOT with ME.


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Yeah, that certainly worked for Japan. I'm sure when their island sinks in a mass of nuclear waste they will be coming here to claim their due. I'll hand them good old Harry Reid as a consolation prize.


Implied Violins's picture

I'd willingly cede them certain parts of Nevada, and New Mexico...

MontgomeryScott's picture

Let's give 'them' a lot of other things, too!

You'd sell your posterity for a night in Las Vegas, perhaps?

YOU would WLLINGLY 'cede' 'THEM' WHAT; exactly?

Let us all see what you are discussing (and make it 'crystal clear' what you are talking about).

YOU would CEDE 'THEM' ('gift to them') parts of sovereign states within a sovereign nation of States. What IF 'THEY' wnated YOUR particular house, block, neighborhood, or region? Would you 'willingly CEDE' to 'them' your posessions and your wife and your sons and daughters?

'The WORD is CORRUPTED; and the STRONG take the WEAK.'


Raging Debate's picture

Violins - I don't know about that. The Chinese people I met here sfill seem to know the value of money and hustle a but for it in service. Down here in Florida it reminds me when I used to go on vacation in the Carribean, hotel people taking an hour to deliver a towel to your room or constantly messing up a meal, standing at registerers talking or trying to train each other etc.

My uncle worked in factories all his life. I remember when NAFTA passed he was working at GE. He would tell me of repairing endless truckloads of defective parts and said the Mexicans lacked quality control.

Truth is if you paid me $10 an hour for 25 hours a week and I had to shack up with four other people just to eat and pay rent I wouldn't give a shit either. In between large data jobs I was hard up a year ago so I worked at a small machine shop factory for a day. I worked two CPC machines at one time and all parts to spec which was one of the owners complaints about staff. Also, he told me employees were drunk, got high, were transients etc.
His son dropped a tube of aluminum at the end of the machine. He fired me because he said I didn't pay attention to it. I replied that between operating two machines, QC'ing parts and monitoring two screens (which would tell me if the machines were having real issues) there was no time to observe what his son was doing. That is reality on a day to day basis for a lot of American workers. That foreigner will do the job and not take a lunch break but 20% of the parts will be *ucked up.

"Fair trade" amounts to mercantilism. In the end the worker can't afford to consume but political insiders and upper management make bucket loads of money for awhile. Imbalance is great for some, they are called predators. Just another hive raid, no different than the Vikings really.

UselessEater's picture

What does that have to do with the Chinese acquisition of land on a private and large corporate interest scale?

Down the road a Chinese person has a shop, up the road "they" have undisclosed mega-big agri etc interests through full or partial ownership...


(edit- no disrespect to your comment, just meant the scale of the issue is greater eg in Aust we are not told about the extent of large scale foreign investment - that will reveal a nasty shock one day soon to the sheeple)

RaceToTheBottom's picture

"Better we fight Russia and lose than be foreclosed on by China...Putin 2014!"

We can be the mouse that roared!!!!


Miffed Microbiologist's picture

Oh dear nmewn, I thought you knew that one. They are doing the jobs Americans will not do silly boy. This entire country would grind to a halt if it weren't for those wise folks in DC.

Rolling in laughter. Whenever I type DC my iPad changes it to D&C. A D&C is just what DC needs. Ok, yeah I'm potted...sorry.

Fuck, I actually said folks. I'm going to pay for this in the morning.


nmewn's picture

lol...second class "citizens" in training.

Implied Violins's picture

HA! AC/DC is what I need at this moment...and I hope you only take that one way ;-)

Going on the Highway to Hell...nanu, nanu

Kreditanstalt's picture

Many Americans have become government-lovers, wanting borders, guards, guns.  They're busy lobbying for the government gun to protect  them from labour market competition, that's all...they're afraid of their inability to compete in a free labour market.

If one's standard of living is unsustainable in a genuine free market, it is undeserved.

nmewn's picture

True, market.

But "free market" does not mean tying both arms & legs behind the back of one participant while demanding them to use their nose & tongue to compete "fairly" against all others.

NoPension's picture

Undocumented Democrats.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Houston Washington, we have a problem.

NoDebt's picture

When the space craft is in trouble, at least Houston tries to help them out with decent advice.  Calling DC would result in mostly a lot of "hold, please, that's not my department," followed by worthless advice, some free condoms and a tax bill for that advice.

Iriestx's picture

Joining the FSA is the new American dream.

alexcojones's picture

I've never made over 30K per year.

Yeah I'm a lazy dreamer, but I try to only work 3 months a year.

I do know that ONE day, 30K will be a weeks pay.

wee-weed up's picture

"I do know that ONE day, 30K will be a weeks pay."
Ha! Once rampant inflation takes hold...
That will be the new hourly minimum wage.

Pure Evil's picture

How much can you make in one hour in Zimbabwe?

de3de8's picture

For the elite they make 30k/wk now

pods's picture

Eek, those are some bad stats.

I think that making $30k would be better than $45k though, as you would make that up in social programs.


fonzannoon's picture

Yeah 30k on the books with another 20k cash business and then qualifiying for some program where you rake in another 30k is where it's at. Take that and move somewhere cheap with resources and call it a day. If you can do that you win.

Seasmoke's picture

Thats what has gone horribly wrong !!

fonzannoon's picture

Nah man. Look the truth is the job thing is structurally broken. Automation will end up rendering almost everything useless. The travesty here is that we have convinced the public that the solution was adding trillions of dollars to the money supply and giving it all to te banks. We should be carving that up and sending everyone a check for 40k a year whether they are employed or not. Then if people want to try to tack on some extra loot then good for them. The risk of blowing up the currency is there in either scenario. We  just allow the banks to keep it all.