Income study of white men explains Donald Trump’s rise in American politics

A new report published by Sentier Research on Wednesday shows that white men in the U.S. with no more than a high school diploma earned approximately $3,500 less in 2014 than they did in 1996, not adjusted for inflation.

The nine percent decline in income during the last 18 years for white working class males is the continuation of a trend that started at least as long ago as 1978, while white men with a college degree have seen their wages increase during the same period.

The study, authored by two former officials with the U.S. Census Bureau, calculated the incomes for 10 groups of people, each in two-year age ranges, starting from 25-to-26, to 43-to-44 years of age in 1996. Researchers then compared the incomes of both high school and college educated groups for each age bracket for the given years.

Results show that the youngest group of working class men actually saw a 19 percent increase in income since 1996, but their oldest counterparts, who are now in their early 60s, have had their incomes decline by nearly half — $51,491 all the way down to $27,230 per year.

By comparison, the white males with a college degree who were 43-to-44 years old in 2014 have seen a 133 percent increase in salary in the last two decades, while the oldest group of college educated white men took a 28.5 percent cut.

Economics professor at Michigan State University, Dr. Charles Ballard, told the Christian Science Monitor that in the 1960s, blue collar jobs in Michigan paid enough to allow someone to own possibly two homes and two or more cars.

“There’s a generation of American men who look at their fathers, who had middle- and upper-class lifestyles with only a high school diploma, and they can’t do that now,” he said.

Many blame the decline of the white American worker for the rise of populist politicians like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has capitalized on the hallowing out of the economy in areas where manufacturing jobs once thrived but have since left, like in Michigan and much of the Upper Midwest.

Not only has Trump campaigned on bringing back these jobs from foreign countries, but the New York real estate mogul has also addressed solving some of the social problems that have been created due to increased rural and small town poverty, like drug abuse.

Harry Holzer, public policy professor at Georgetown University, described the negative effect this phenomenon has had on society.

“When white men disconnect from the workforce, they also disconnect from social institutions, which can lead to unstable or nonexistent marriages or drug problems like the opioid epidemic. We’re seeing things in the white male population now that we saw in the African-American population decades ago,” he said.

 

[CNN Money] [Christian Science Monitor] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via The Hill]