According to The Independent, the minimum wage in the USA has stood unchanged for a decade - its longest freeze ever - until it was increased to $5.85 an hour from the $5.15 set in 1997. The national poverty rate stands officially at around 13 per cent, a level little changed from the 1970s. Poverty is currently defined as an income of $21,500 (£10,750) for a family of four.
With a population of 301million, the USA, the richest country in the world, has a record 28 million people (9.3 percent of the total population) relying on food stamps to feed themselves and their families, that is, just to survive. Food stamps are the symbol of poverty in the US. This figure is up from 26.5 million in 2007. This programme of food stamps was introduced in the 1960s and has never reached the current level whatever the crisis they had in the past.
Scores of ordinary Americans are losing their houses, the pace of job losses is accelerating, and all this is accompanied by fast-rising prices. What is more decisive is that this is not the end but the beginning of the crisis. Things are bad in Wall Street but even worse in every other street inhabited by working class Americans.
The state of Michigan has seen a collapse of its industrial base in the last few years, in particular car production, with the result that one in every eight of its inhabitants depends on food stamps. This is twice as much as in 2000! Forty other states have experienced an increase in applications for the stamps.
People whose earnings are above the official poverty line can apply for this programme. In the United States of America, the poverty threshold for a family group of four, including two children, is US$20,444 a year, i.e. $14 (£7 Sterling) per person per day! The minimum wage was only changed after a whole decade of freeze until it was increased to $5.85 an hour from $5.15 in 1997. The poverty rate is officially at around 13 per cent, which is more or less the same as in the 1970s.
The figures for jobs in March are being prepared and are likely to show 50,000 more jobs lost nationwide, with an overall unemployment rate up to around 5 per cent.
If you still wanted to close your eyes to reality, this is a certain sign of the economic crisis being faced by the USA!