America the Gutted http://www.globalpost.com/taxonomy/term/22660/all en America the Gutted: What happens when the middle class disappears? (VIDEO) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/america-the-gutted-what-happens-when-the-middle-class-disappears <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> A 10-month investigation by GlobalPost travels from the shuttered factory towns of the United States to the emerging boomtowns of the developing world. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomas Mucha </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; There is a deep unease spreading across the United States.</p> <p>As anyone who&#39;s living through it can tell you, America&#39;s middle class &mdash; the backbone of the world&#39;s largest economy &mdash; is in distress.</p> <p>The numbers tell the story:</p> <p>Median family income in America peaked in the year 2000. Since then it is down some 6 percent, the worst 12-year stretch for the middle class since the Great Depression.</p> <p>Meanwhile many of the jobs that once employed this group have moved overseas or have been replaced by new technologies, a big problem for one subset of the middle class: the <a href="http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm" target="_blank">5 million out-of-work Americans</a> who the Labor Department calls the &quot;long-term unemployed.&quot;</p> <p>In short, America&#39;s middle class is being gutted by a variety of complex and interrelated factors, and this economic pain is increasingly evident to those at the center of it.</p> <p>According to an August survey by <a href="http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/08/22/the-lost-decade-of-the-middle-class/3/#chapter-3-middle-class-economics">the Pew Research Center</a>, 85 percent of middle class Americans say it is more difficult today to maintain their standard of living than it was 10 years ago.</p> <p>This seismic shift is decades in the making and transcends Democratic and Republican parties and politics. It was exacerbated by the Great Recession of 2008, which decimated the US job and housing markets, a key source of middle class income and wealth.</p> <p>The implications are profound and troubling.</p> <p>As this middle hollows out, millions have fewer financial resources for their families, and less spending power to help fuel the consumer-based US economy.</p> <p>Millions more are losing hope that their country can provide good jobs now or in the future.</p> <p>Many are questioning the very ideals of America, and what the country&#39;s historic opportunity once represented to the rest of the world.</p> <p>But America&#39;s problems are not the whole story.</p> <p>Over roughly the same period as the middle class decline in the US, huge numbers in the developing world have enjoyed big increases in their standards of living &mdash; notably in China and India, as well as other countries in Asia, Latin America and beyond.</p> <p>While the Great Recession has challenged some of these high-flying places, the long-term trend is clear: more people around the world are expected to ascend into the middle class.</p> <p>According to scholar <a href="http://books.google.com/books?id=t06DB0lUAZUC&amp;pg=PA32&amp;lpg=PA32&amp;dq=%22The+New+Global+Middle+Class:+A+Crossover+from+West+to+East%22&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=Ox5hz96gxN&amp;sig=TOPqY7B1MR8EtMlotJRGzMGOCu0&amp;hl=en#v=onepage&amp;q=%22The%20New%20Global%20Middle%20Class%3A%20A%20Crossover%20from%20West%20to%20East%22&amp;f=false" target="_blank">Cheng Li of the Brookings Institution Press</a>, by 2030 &quot;5 billion people &mdash; nearly two-thirds of the global population &mdash; could be middle class.&quot;</p> <p>What does this complex trend mean for people around the world? How is it playing out in shuttered factory towns across America? How is it changing lives &mdash; for good and sometimes ill &mdash; in the emerging boomtowns of the developing world? What is the future for the middle class in the US?</p> <p>These questions and more are the focus of a 10-month GlobalPost investigation, America the Gutted.</p> <p>In this worldwide reporting project, GlobalPost&#39;s award-winning team of journalists will tell the stories of American middle-class workers who have lost their jobs across a number of industries, and who are today struggling to make ends meet.</p> <p>On the flip side, we&#39;ll also profile workers around the world who now own the jobs once held by America&#39;s faltering middle class &mdash; in China, India, the Philippines and elsewhere.</p> <p>It&#39;s our goal to humanize this global economic shift by telling real stories of real people &mdash; across text, video and photography.&nbsp;</p> <p>Along the way, we&#39;ll be using <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted">this America the Gutted blog</a> to tease out some of the project&#39;s larger themes and original reporting. We&#39;ll also point to related news stories from around the world and, yes, on the US presidential campaign trail, where a sharp debate over America&#39;s economy could define the election.</p> <p>Then, in early October, we&#39;ll launch the full America the Gutted reporting project on GlobalPost.</p> <p>We hope you&#39;ll join us.</p> <p>And please feel free to offer your own stories and thoughts in the comment section below. This global trend concerns all of us, no matter where you happen to live.</p> <p>Here&#39;s more on why we&#39;re covering this:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/2fhocU7rrPo" width="560"></iframe></p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/macro/america-the-gutted-what-happens-when-the-middle-class-disappears" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Politics Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 19:55:00 +0000 Thomas Mucha 5718249 at http://www.globalpost.com America the Gutted: What Cleveland and Napa have in common http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-what-cleveland-and-napa-have-commo <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> The loss of manufacturing jobs has left one-time industrial powerhouses on par with California wine country. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Solana Pyne </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW YORK &mdash; To wrap your mind around just how far America&#39;s once-great&nbsp;manufacturing cities have fallen, consider this:</p> <p>The industrial-era stalwart of Cleveland, Ohio <a href="http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2012/07/new-geography-working-class/2238/" target="_blank">now has the same&nbsp;percentage of production workers</a> in its labor force as Napa,&nbsp;California&#39;s wine mecca.</p> <p>And in case you&#39;ve never passed through Cleveland, the change&nbsp;hasn&#39;t come because Ohio suddenly spawned a sunny climate and wine&nbsp;industry.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-what-cleveland-and-napa-have-commo" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Global Economy United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:57:00 +0000 Solana Pyne 5718490 at http://www.globalpost.com America the Gutted: Golfing Motor City (VIDEO) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-golfing-motor-city <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tired of Industrial Ruin Porn featuring the gutted city of Detroit? Try crossing it with a golf club. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Solana Pyne </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW YORK &mdash; The Motor City has long been the poster child for America&rsquo;s industrial&nbsp;decline.</p> <p>But, aside from the porn-ish slide shows of industrial ruin&nbsp;posted regularly on news sites, it can be hard to get a grip on what&nbsp;the place actually feels like.</p> <p>This summer, a knicker-wearing, golf club-toting TV reporter has&nbsp;<a href="http://www.myfoxdetroit.com/video?autoStart=true&amp;topVideoCatNo=default&amp;clipId=7465460" target="_blank">managed to do what dozens of photo montages have not</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-golfing-motor-city" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Global Economy United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:04:00 +0000 Solana Pyne 5718499 at http://www.globalpost.com America the Gutted: Wooing the middle class voter (VIDEO) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-wooing-the-middle-class-voter <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Down, out, and headed for the ballot box? Presidential candidates target the big group of Americans in the shrinking middle. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomas Mucha </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; Think Republican Party presidential candidate Mitt Romney would like some middle class votes come November?</p> <p>What about President Barack Obama?</p> <p>Swing states like Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and others are full of these key voters, of course.</p> <p>Each place is thick with former manufacturing and other middle class workers, many of whom have struggled mightily over the past decade, to say nothing of the past four difficult years.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/america-the-gutted-wooing-the-middle-class-voter" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Elections Politics Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:30:00 +0000 Thomas Mucha 5718517 at http://www.globalpost.com India: Outsourcing at center of US election battle http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/india-outsourcing-us-election-middle-class <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> It's the most talked about loss of American jobs since Japan took over the auto industry. But what's it all about? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW DELHI, India &mdash;&nbsp;The outsourcing of work to India and a handful of other countries is the most talked about loss of American jobs since Japan took over the auto industry in the 1980s. But how many, and what kind of jobs is it really costing US workers?</p> <p>Both the Obama and the Romney campaign have tried to make outsourcing an election issue, demonizing Indian workers and promoting a kind of xenophobia that would be universally decried if it were directed at actual immigrants.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/india-outsourcing-us-election-middle-class" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Global Economy India United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:42:00 +0000 Jason Overdorf 5718534 at http://www.globalpost.com India: What is outsourcing? http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/india-outsourcing-BPO <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Those guys named Raj represent an ever smaller portion of the jobs going to India. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Jason Overdorf </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>NEW DELHI, India &mdash; Here&#39;s a news flash for you: The <a href="http://www.nasscom.org/impact-indias-growth">outsourcing business</a> isn&#39;t at all what you think it is.</p> <p>Based on its image in popular culture, you&#39;d think &ldquo;business process outsourcing&rdquo; was limited to handling phone calls for technical support and dunning people with outstanding credit card payments.</p> <p>But that stuff represents an ever smaller segment of the BPO business &mdash; which also includes high-growth areas like data mining. And BPO itself is only a small part of what&#39;s known as &ldquo;outsourcing.&rdquo;</p> <p>According to India&#39;s <a href="http://www.nasscom.org/bpo-0">National Association of Software and Services Companies</a> (Nasscom), India&#39;s BPO segment is worth about $16 billion, and growing at 12 percent. But other types of work both accounts for more money and higher growth.</p> <p>IT services &ndash; which includes not only application development and maintenance but also testing, infrastructure management and system integration, and all the other stuff you think of your in-house IT guy as doing &ndash; grew 19 percent this fiscal year to account for exports of $40 billion, according to <a href="http://www.nasscom.org/it-services">Nasscom</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.nasscom.org/engineering-rd-erdembedded-systems">Engineering design and research and development</a>&nbsp;&mdash; the stuff you think your in-house engineers are doing &mdash; grew 14 percent to generate export revenues of $10 billion, thanks to a decline in the number of people with the necessary skills in the US and Europe.</p> <p><a href="http://www.nasscom.org/offshore-software-product-development-ospd">Outsourced Software Product Development</a> (OSPD), already worth more than $1 billion a year, is expected to grow 17 percent this year.</p> <p>And in more bad news for you IT guys, <a href="http://www.nasscom.org/remote-infrastructure-management-rim">remote management of computer servers</a>, networks and desktops, or &ldquo;RIM,&rdquo; more than doubled to reach $7 billion.</p> <p>The upshot? Maybe you should start working on understanding that Indian accent, instead of mocking it. The next Raj you talk to might be your boss.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/india-outsourcing-BPO" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Global Economy India United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:06:00 +0000 Jason Overdorf 5718542 at http://www.globalpost.com Who belongs to the Chinese middle class? http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/china-chinese-middle-class <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Meet these new members of the not-quite-poor, not-quite-rich in the Middle Kingdom. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Benjamin Carlson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>HONG KONG &mdash; Over the last decade, as America&rsquo;s middle class has been squeezed and shrunk, millions of Chinese have risen from poverty, creating a new &mdash; if still hazily emerging &mdash; middle class in the Middle Kingdom. They are beneficiaries of the trends that have gutted America&#39;s economy. Now, much of the world&rsquo;s hope for future growth rests on the development of them as consumers.</p> <p>So who are these new members of the not-quite-poor, not-quite-rich? In some ways, they resemble their American counterparts, but the differences are notable. Below, a brief sketch of this all-important group.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Size and Income</strong></p> <p>Average incomes in China are still a fraction of what they are in the US, so anyone making from $6,000 to $15,000 a year is generally considered to be in the middle. In China, that amounts to 350 million households &mdash; a figure that continues to surge. Since 2000, the amount of disposable <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/06/26/news/economy/china-middle-class/index.htm">income</a> available to urban households has more than quadrupled.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Professions</strong></p> <p>Think city-dwelling lawyers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, real-estate managers and salesmen. In her book, &quot;The Chinese Dream,&quot; Helen H. Wang defines this group as &ldquo;urban professionals and entrepreneurs from all walks of life, who have college degrees.&rdquo; Besides income, one Chinese scholar <a href="http://www.china.org.cn/china/2010-01/23/content_19293900.htm">argues</a> that to truly belong to the middle class, Chinese people must be managers, business owners or technians.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/china-chinese-middle-class" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted China Culture & Lifestyle Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:12:00 +0000 Benjamin Carlson 5718764 at http://www.globalpost.com Why China’s middle class is nervous http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/china-middle-class-economic-growth-wealth-disparity <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Experts argue that the problems created by the last decade of growth in China may outweigh the achievements. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Benjamin Carlson </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>HONG KONG &mdash; Almost as quickly as China&rsquo;s burgeoning middle class has catapulted into existence, there have been fears that its days of heady growth could be ending.</p> <p>With the economy slowing, and the manufacturing boom that propelled it looking shaky, many experts inside and outside the country argue that it will have to go through a period of painful rebalancing before middle-class growth can be resumed.</p> <p>In a barnstorming editorial for Caijing magazine titled <a href="http://www.thechinastory.org/2012/09/the-ten-grave-problems-facing-china/">&ldquo;The Ten Grave Problems,&rdquo;</a> Deng Yuwen argues that the problems created by the last decade of growth may outweigh its achievements. Among the problems he lists is the &ldquo;failure to nurture and grow a middle class.&rdquo;</p> <p>He argues:</p> <blockquote><p>In the last decade, benefiting from the economic boom, the sheer number of middle-class people increased. However, the growth rate lags far behind general economic growth rates, as a result of the lack of any mechanism to nurture the middle class. As regards income distribution, reform has stagnated, resulting in an ever-increasing gap between rich and poor.</p> <p>The road leading towards the middle class is becoming even bumpier for low-income households. High housing prices have eroded people&rsquo;s spending power, putting middle-class living standards beyond their reach. Bearish stock markets have sucked in people&rsquo;s savings yet denied them the chance of getting returns on investment. These are just some areas where the government should have done better.</p> </blockquote> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/china-middle-class-economic-growth-wealth-disparity" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Asia-Pacific China Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:52:00 +0000 Benjamin Carlson 5718768 at http://www.globalpost.com The true cost of “Made in the USA” Levi’s? $178 http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/levis-blue-jeans-made-in-the-USA <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Is the “ultimate icon of American culture” still affordable? </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Patrick Winn </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BANGKOK, <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/internal/section-config/thailand">Thailand</a> — Want a “Made in the USA” tag stitched inside your iconic Levi’s 501 jeans?</p> <p>Your patriotism will cost you.</p> <p>In the outsourcing era, all Levi’s jeans are stitched outside America with one exception: a single line of jeans produced at a factory called “White Oak” in Greensboro, NC. The mill is staffed by old hands who’ve narrowly survived the American garment manufacturing industry’s collapse. </p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/levis-blue-jeans-made-in-the-USA" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Culture & Lifestyle Global Economy United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:10:00 +0000 Patrick Winn 5718774 at http://www.globalpost.com The return of “Made in Myanmar” to US closets http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/myanmar-burma-economy-levis-strauss <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> As sanctions lift, impoverished nation likely to resume stitching American brands. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Patrick Winn </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BANGKOK, Thailand &mdash; If you&rsquo;ve got a pair of tattered, grunge-era Levi&rsquo;s, check the tag. If it reads &ldquo;Made in Myanmar,&rdquo; you&rsquo;ve got a relic from a time when US apparel makers were still willing to do business in Myanmar (also called Burma) and risk condemnation for colluding with ruling despots.</p> <p>A lot has changed since 1992, the year <a href="http://multinationalmonitor.org/hyper/mm0696.03.html">Levi Strauss closed Myanmar operations</a> while announcing it wasn&rsquo;t possible to do business there without &ldquo;directly supporting the military government and its pervasive violations of human rights.&rdquo;</p> <p>Now, as a reform movement nudges Western sanctions towards the dustbin, Myanmar appears primed to compete with other Asian nations on the come-up (think Bangladesh and Vietnam) and start churning out American clothing brands en masse.</p> <p>This is almost inevitable. Stitching clothes is highly repetitive, low-pay work that gravitates to poor countries. Myanmar, located between China and India, hits all the right strategic and economic notes. In fact, the country already has a sizable industry that was gutted in 2003, the year American trade embargoes criminalized shipping clothes to the US.</p> <p>Myanmar is among the poorest nations in Asia. And when extremely poor countries attempt to pull themselves off the ground, they often have little else to offer but dirt-cheap wages and unskilled masses desperate for steady jobs. That&rsquo;s why garment stitching is, in the words of <a href="http://www.ide.go.jp/Japanese/Publish/Download/Report/2011/pdf/410_ch8.pdf">Japanese researcher Toshihiro Kudo</a>, the &ldquo;first rung on the industrialization ladder.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p> <p>Expectations are high, he writes, that garment stitching will become this ascendent nation&rsquo;s &ldquo;driving force&rdquo; in the manufacturing sector.</p> <p>So if you buy cheap threads from H&amp;M, The Gap or any of the other brands that already source clothes from impoverished reaches of Southeast Asia, expect &ldquo;Made in Myanmar&rdquo; to reappear in your closet in the very near future.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/myanmar-burma-economy-levis-strauss" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Myanmar Global Economy United States Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:56:00 +0000 Patrick Winn 5718785 at http://www.globalpost.com Global middle class shifts from West to East http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/global-middle-class-shifts-west-east <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Assuming current trends continue, China could become the world's largest middle class by 2020. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Emily Lodish </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; As the middle class shrinks in America, it swells elsewhere. In Asia, to be exact.</p> <p>The numbers, according to experts from the Brookings Institution, a think-tank in Washington, DC, are staggering.</p> <p>&quot;By 2021,&quot; write&nbsp;Homi Kharas and Geoffrey Gertz in a chapter of the compilation, &quot;China&#39;s Emerging Middle Class,&quot; &quot;there could be more than 2 billion Asians in middle-class households.&quot;</p> <blockquote><p>According to our estimates, by 2015, for the first time in 300 years, the number of Asian middle-class consumers will equal the number in Europe and North America. ... In China alone there could be more than 670 million middle-class consumers, compared with only perhaps 150 million today.</p> </blockquote> <p>This is not a done deal, they say, since many things depend on as-yet-to-be developed infrastructure, education and health care.</p> <p>But assuming these systems can rise to the occasion, China could become the world&#39;s largest middle class by 2020. Whereas today it accounts for only 4 percent of the global middle class, making it seventh on the list.</p> <p>Already, global markets are shifting to reflect the changing dynamics of the global middle class. (Data from Kharas and Gertz&#39;s chapter.)</p> <p><strong>Auto sales</strong></p> <p>In 2000, the US accounted for 37 percent of all car sales, while China accounted for barely 1 percent. Fast forward to today, and China is the world&#39;s largest auto market. 13.6 million vehicles sold in China in 2009, well above the 10.4 million that sold in the United States.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/global-middle-class-shifts-west-east" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Asia-Pacific China Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:50:00 +0000 Emily Lodish 5718802 at http://www.globalpost.com Video: Decoding the middle class http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/video-decoding-the-middle-class <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> What's happening to America's middle class? How is this playing around the world? And why does it matter? Three questions for GlobalPost Editor Thomas Mucha. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomas Mucha </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>BOSTON &mdash; America&#39;s middle class is in trouble, a development that is producing serious consequences for the lives of millions of people.</p> <p>It&#39;s also affecting the well-being of the US economy.</p> <p>Around the developing world, however, the story is very different.</p> <p>Over the past two decades &mdash; and roughly during the same time as the middle class has struggled in the US &mdash; millions of people have moved out of poverty and into middle class status.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/video-decoding-the-middle-class" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Global Economy Mon, 10 Sep 2012 20:24:00 +0000 Thomas Mucha 5718829 at http://www.globalpost.com America the Gutted: the global garment industry's fleeting hub http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/philippines/120914/race-the-bottom-the-shifting-front-lines-dirt- <p>MANILA, Philippines &mdash; The collapse of US apparel manufacturing has been good to Fely Curameng, a Filipina peasant-turned-factory boss. Through windows in her air-conditioned office, she looks out upon of an army of bent backs. A hive of workers on the factory floor hunch over automatic sewing machines. Each day, incoming bales of cloth are cut and stitched into signature American brands: Dickies, Wrangler, Lee and more. But now, as lower wage countries emerge, even Curameng has fallen victim to the perils of outsourcing. &nbsp;</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/philippines/120914/race-the-bottom-the-shifting-front-lines-dirt-" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America the Gutted Global Economy Philippines United States Wed, 24 Oct 2012 10:00:00 +0000 Patrick Winn 5719324 at http://www.globalpost.com America the Gutted: What's middle-income to Mitt Romney? http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/middle-income-mitt-romney <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> On ABC's Good Morning America, Mitt Romney says "middle income is $200,00 to $250,000." </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomas Mucha </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>According to the <a href="http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/income_wealth/cb12-172.html" target="_blank">Census Bureau this week</a>, real median household income in the United States fell to $50,054 in 2011.</p> <p>That number is down 1.5 percent from the previous year and, when adjusted for inflation, is at a 17-year low.</p> <p>It&#39;s about 9 percent lower from its 1999 peak, the Census Bureau <a href="http://www.census.gov/prod/2012pubs/p60-243.pdf" target="_blank">said in a new report</a>.</p> <p>The downward income trend is another unpleasant reminder of just how difficult it&#39;s been for middle class Americans in recent years, particularly since the start of the Great Recession.</p> <p>Enter Mitt Romney, who&#39;s wooing middle class voters by arguing that his economic policies are best for the US economy.</p> <p>Romney tried to make that case again this morning on <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/09/exclusive-romney-on-debates-obama-will-say-things-that-arent-true/" target="_blank">ABC&#39;s Good Morning America program</a>.</p> <p>It didn&#39;t quite work out that way, at least in his attempt to make middle class voters believe that he understands their problems.</p> <p>See this exchange with host George Stephanopolous, as <a href="http://gawker.com/5943330/romney-believes-middle+income-americans-make-200000-to-250000-a-year?utm_campaign=socialflow_gawker_facebook&amp;utm_source=gawker_facebook&amp;utm_medium=socialflow" target="_blank">reported by Gawker</a>.</p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/middle-income-mitt-romney" target="_blank">read more</a></p> America The Gutted America the Gutted Elections Global Economy Fri, 14 Sep 2012 17:35:00 +0000 Thomas Mucha 5719355 at http://www.globalpost.com Secret Video: What does Mitt Romney really think of Obama voters? (UPDATED) http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/secret-video-what-does-mitt-romney-really-think-voter <div class="field field-type-text field-field-subhead"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> An exclusive video obtained by Mother Jones shows the GOP candidate "raw and unplugged" discussing the 47 percent and, now, foreign policy. </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-byline1"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Thomas Mucha </div> </div> </div> <!--paging_filter--><p>It&#39;s not exactly news that Mitt Romney has had some trouble connecting with a <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/120917/romney-courts-latino-business-owners-boost-poll-numbers">large part of the American electorate</a>.</p> <p>This is especially true when it comes to <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/middle-income-mitt-romney">middle and lower income Americans</a>, particularly those who receive government assistance and &mdash; according to the GOP presidential candidate &mdash; voted for President Barack Obama four years ago.</p> <p>So it&#39;s a safe bet to assume that Romney&#39;s standing with this group won&#39;t be helped by a video scoop today from Mother Jones, which features a &quot;secret video&quot; of Romney speaking at a private fundraiser earlier this year.</p> <p>Here&#39;s how David Corn <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser" target="_blank">framed the Mother Jones exclusive</a>:</p> <blockquote><p>&quot;During a private fundraiser earlier this year, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a small group of wealthy contributors what he truly thinks of all the voters who support President Barack Obama. He dismissed these Americans as freeloaders who pay no taxes, who don&#39;t assume responsibility for their lives, and who think government should take care of them. Fielding a question from a donor about how he could triumph in November, Romney replied: There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that&#39;s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what&hellip;These are people who pay no income tax.&quot;</p> </blockquote> <p>Romney went on to say the following: &quot;[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I&#39;ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.&quot;</p> <p>Here&#39;s the clip obtained by Mother Jones, which has been blurred to protect the identity of the photographer, and which Corn claims has been verified by the publication:</p> <p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/XnB0NZzl5HA" width="560"></iframe></p> <p>The <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/secret-video-romney-private-fundraiser" target="_blank">Mother Jones story</a> also includes video clips of Romney speaking candidly on a variety of subjects, ranging from why he&#39;s treating Obama &quot;gingerly&quot; (voters don&#39;t want to be wrong about 2008), to extolling his team of experienced &quot;consultants&quot; (including those who have worked for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and others), to what he thinks wins elections (political ads), and to what will happen to the financial markets if he wins (they&#39;ll go up).</p> <p>UPDATE: On Tuesday, Mother Jones <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/romney-secret-video-israeli-palestinian-middle-east-peace" target="_blank">released a second batch of secret videos</a>, including Mitt Romney&#39;s unvarnished thoughts on several foreign policy issues, including Israel, Iran&#39;s nuclear ambitions, and his assessment of Obama&#39;s foreign policy moves.</p> <p>Also on Tuesday, Mitt Romney was forced to <a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/politics/120918/mitt-romney-taxes-poor-people-victims-video">acknowledge the public furor over the comments</a>.</p> <p>Later in the day, and following Romney&#39;s urging, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/09/watch-full-secret-video-private-romney-fundraiser" target="_blank">Mother Jones released the full 49-minute video</a>, in two parts.</p> <p><iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/mUEHpc6JKw8" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p><iframe width="420" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/rBj0joyCeag" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe></p> <p><a href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/america-the-gutted/secret-video-what-does-mitt-romney-really-think-voter" target="_blank">read more</a></p> 2012 US Election America The Gutted America the Gutted Elections Political Risk United States Mon, 17 Sep 2012 21:17:00 +0000 Thomas Mucha 5719610 at http://www.globalpost.com