Reworking the American Dream: - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Reworking the American Dream:

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  1. Reworking the American Dream: Equal Opportunity and Upward Mobility in a Post-Industrial Era

  2. The American Dream • Decent wages and benefits • Job security • Home ownership • Middle-class lifestyle • Sense of pride and belonging • Upward mobility for one’s children

  3. Post-war social policies • Funding and loans for higher education • Home loans and tax benefits for mortgages • Regulation of employment opportunities, wages, and benefits • Public works projects • Economic support for those without jobs • Policies that protect workers’ rights to unionize

  4. Myths of a classless society • Equal opportunity for upward mobility • Erasure of class consciousness and conflict • Everyone’s middle class • Sense of entitlement

  5. Since the 1970s:Redefining the American Dream

  6. Economic Globalization • Easy movement of financial resources • Communication becomes fast and easy • Transportation makes it easier to move goods • International divisions of labor • Development of global markets increases demand • Institutional lag

  7. Geographic Shifts • Movement of industries • From cities to suburbs • From northeast to south and west • From U.S. to other countries • Leads to weakening of the economic value of industrial labor • Deindustrialization • Undermines the urban northeast • African-American workers especially vulnerable to economic struggle

  8. Changes in Work • Loss of manufacturing jobs with high pay and good benefits • Growth of service and retail jobs with low pay and poor benefits • Growth of part-time, contingent, and multiple employment • Many people cannot find work consistent with their training and abilities • Unemployment

  9. Work Life vs. Home Life • Longer hours cut into family life • Combined hours of work for married couples has increased by almost 20% in the last 3 decades to almost 70 hours a week • Women’s “second shift” • Workplace sometimes offers more satisfaction than home life • Work moves into the home • Telecommuting • Workers always “available” by phone or e-mail

  10. More Work, Less Pay • US workers work one full month longer per year than they did 20 years ago by working more jobs • Workers in the U.S. work more hours and are paid less per hour than workers in other industrialized nations • Real wages are declining • Average hourly earnings fell 9% in real terms since 1973 despite productivity gains

  11. A larger share of earnings go to pay for benefits

  12. Growing Inequalities • In 1976, the top 10% owned 50% of the wealth; today they own 70%. • In 1978-80, the ratio of the family income of the top 20% to bottom 20% was 7.4%. In 1998-00, it was 10%. • According to Business Week, in 1980 CEOs of the Fortune 500 companies were paid 41 times more than the average for workers. In 1990, they were paid 85 times more. In 2000, 531 times more.

  13. Changing Composition of the Workforce • More workers • Baby boom • Women entering the workforce • Birth control • Economic Need • Feminism • Immigration • Changing demographics • More educated • Older • baby boomers age but keep working • Minorities & women gaining access to better jobs

  14. Work in the 21st Century:Who Works • The median age of the labor force is rising: almost 41 by 2008 • 60% of all women are in the labor force; 75% of all men • 20% of married women make more their husbands • 75% of mothers work

  15. Who Works: Racial Composition of the Workforce

  16. Education and Work

  17. Education and Work • College graduates over 25 make twice as much as those with high school or less • Earnings of college educated women more than doubled in last 20 years, but they still earn less than men • The unemployment rate for men who dropped out of high school is four times the rate of college educated men • Some jobs with above-average earnings do not require a college degree but most require substantial training

  18. Future trends • As the population ages, fewer workers will support more retirees • Men are tending to stay with one employer for fewer years; women stay longer • Temporary help industry growing rapidly • 13 million people work as independent contractors, temps, contract workers, or on-call workers

  19. New jobs, Growth industries • High-tech: computer engineers, computer support specialists, systems analysts, database operators, desktop publishing specialists, • Health care: personal care and home health care aides, medical assistants, social and human service assistants, and physician assistants

  20. Competing Visions of the American Dream • Polarization of America • New ideas about class • New nationalism • Struggle over memory

  21. Polarization • Income and wealth gap increasing • New entrepreneurs raise expectations about success • Getting rich, not just comfortable • Ever-increasing expectations of consumption

  22. Polarization • Average Americans are working more and earning less • Job security is no longer expected • Wages and benefits decreasing

  23. Social supports have disappeared • Reduced funding for education • Privatization of social supports • Education • Health insurance • Pensions • Welfare reform • Government policies geared to supporting global corporations rather than people

  24. Class becomes more fluid • New ways of talking about social groups • Dot com millionaires • Soccer moms • Working families • Working poor • Underclass

  25. New nationalism • Loss of “entitlements” • Economic opportunities • Sense of invulnerability • Safety & personal freedom • Innocence of imperialism • Politics of resentment • Blaming “others” for economic losses • Workers in other countries • Global corporations • Resistance to globalization

  26. Struggle over memory • Nostalgia for “better times” • Ideals about “American exceptionalism” • Ignores the limitations of the American dream • Expectations of a “better” future • Every generation should “move up” • Standard of living should keep improving

  27. Is there a future for the American dream? “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow”