Census data shows many more Americans were back to work in 2011, but in low-paying jobs.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research analyzed the newest census information on health, income, poverty, and inequality.
They say the best news was “the number of people without health insurance declined by 1.3 million, with the largest gain among adults ages 19-25,” mainly because of the Affordable Care Act. Also good: “Almost 2.2 million more Americans were working year-round, full-time in 2011 than in 2010.”
Unfortunately, many of those jobs didn’t pay very well – the biggest job gains came among the bottom quintile, the 20 percent of Americans with the lowest income. They had 17.3 percent more jobs last year than in 2010. Gains in the middle class were negligible.
What this means is that more people were back to work, but the average American income among full-time workers was actually 2.5 percent lower: $48,202 for men and $37,118 for women.
Things would be very different, and much more positive for the middle class and working class, if Congress had passed the American Jobs Act proposed by President Obama in 2011. The Jobs Act would have, among other things, created 1.3 million jobs by the end of 2012, including for several hundred thousand construction workers, teachers, and first responders.
That finally passed in April, so hopefully we’ll see better numbers next year.