Our View: Middle class earnings on downward slide

A new internal government report says that the middle class hasn’t been doing that well in Canada over the past few decades.

Employment and Social Development Canada, which runs EI, says middle-income families have seen their average earnings rise just 1.7 per cent from 1993 to 2007.

The families are increasingly vulnerable to economic shocks and are mortgaging their future to stay afloat.

This decline in the economic power of the middle class may come as a shock to some, or be met with outright denial by others, but it’s been painfully obvious to members of the actual middle class over the last few decades.

Those under 40, or with adult children trying to enter the workforce, can simply compare the experiences of one generation to another.

Those raised in the 1950s and 1960s were lucky enough to experience generally low unemployment, a rising standard of living, and jobs that could be expected to last for decades, with a pension at the end.

For those entering the workforce these days, whether straight from college or from a layoff due to the recent recession, those days are long gone.

A student graduating from university or a trade school today, contemplating the same career track that his or her parents followed, will almost certainly need more education, and will face more job insecurity in exchange for less money in real terms.

There are exceptions to these rules.

Those at the absolute pinnacle of the economic pyramid, the CEOs and top executives, and particularly those in the banking field, seem to be doing fine in this new economic order.

We need to demand of our leaders a meaningful answer to the ever-declining prospects of the middle class, for those working now, and especially for those who are about to enter the work force.

– M.C.

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