Millions Give Up American Dream for Less than $16 an Hour

Friday, 15 Mar 2013 07:40 AM

By Michael Carr

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Almost 50 million Americans receive government benefits. For some it is a safety net. For others, it is a way of life and the acceptance that success if for other people. For a relatively small sum, they give up the hopes and dreams that have made America a great country.

In the most recent monthly employment report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 58.6 percent of Americans are working, the lowest level since the double-dip recession in the early 1980s ended.

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In the past, the percentage of people with jobs dipped in recessions and then rose rapidly after the economic contraction ended. This time is different. The percentage of Americans with a job has been at recession levels for more than three years after the recession ended.

Extended unemployment benefits that lasted for two years contributed to the current situation, as did increased access to food stamps and other benefits. Taken together, government benefits can be worth more than $30,000 a year, according to an analysis by the Cato Institute. This is equivalent to a job paying more than $15.50 an hour. That is the maximum amount and many beneficiaries get far less.

Some will argue the level of benefits is too high. Another way to look at the question is to ask why Americans would give up the American dream for so little money. Benefits will rise with inflation, but many Americans accept that they will never have more than what they have now. Giving up the dream of success in a career, a bigger home and a new home is the true American tragedy that government benefits are funding.

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