Up   |  March 24, 2013

New York City’s vanishing middle class

Chris Hayes’ guests, four of the Democratic candidates for New York City mayor, discuss the income share of the top one percent in New York City versus the United States, and the staggering and rising cost of housing.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> really remarkable statistics from the fiscal policy , national employment law project. about the contours of job creation and job destruction in new york city in the period of the aftermath of the financial crisis . so from wait, july 2008 , november 2012 , low-wage industries paying below 45,000 a year add eed 164,000 jobs. middle wage pay lost 140,000 jobs. high-wage industries lost 20,000 jobs. massive expansion at the bottom of low-paying, largely service sector jobs in the city. and a real decimation of middle class jobs in the city. at the same time that -- for reasons that i can never quite figure out from economic perspective housing costs here just continue to go up and up and up despite the fact that the housing -- housing costs went way down elsewhere and other parts of the country and this creates a -- just a situation in which is just tenable to living -- and pay your rent and send your kid to a good school. you all agree.

>> that's why you continue to see people priced out each and every day of the city of new york . some of sit the policies of the city of new york . they contribute to that. some of it is -- as you look to create new jobs in the city of new york , and education system that's not producing, graduates who are going to take those higher paying jobs. it really is and mane while had you a mayor who is focused in one area, who doesn't look at the middle class of working new yorkers for the last 12 years.

>> in the country is a big problem. in new york city , bigger than the rest of the country. growing faster. and the problem is that the economic development policies under this administration have been erased. it is all about creating as many jobs as possible, almost all of them are at minimum wage . that's been the --

>> let's show this graphic real quick. 10% of income went to the top 1% in 1980 . by 2011 , 20% of the income. this is -- now the -- bottom line is the united states . the top line is new york city . where that share for the top 1% is much, much, much higher. you see that. it is -- even more unequal here in new york .

>> that's why i passed the living wage bill in 1996 . nothing has improved since then. we have -- we have people working earning $7.50 an hour that were living in shelters. they are working full time and can't afford housing in the city. we have to raise minimum wage .

>> so here is -- i want to turn to solutions. that's one concrete thing. living wage legislation. minimum wage .

>> in the city's contract, expand living wages . the city elects out billions of dollars in contracts. those contract issues paid people living wages that are busting millions like the mayors do with the bus drivers.

>> let's talk about living wages . huge opportunity for us because we are subsidizing the firms with very big amounts of money and not getting much back. quinn, another example, watered down the legislation. reached 400 workers. we need a real expansion of living wage legislation. we have to help low-wage workers organize. this is something that the city government can actually push the private sector on. combination of paid sick day which is helps poem keep their jobs, living wage legislation which raises wage levels for a certain number of workers and helps the mark net general. and assisting and organizing efforts for low-wage workers starts to change.

>> every member of the --

>> as well as. you start to look at how do we keep people in the city of new york . the city of new york is government -- the government needs to focus on building middle income housing . that helps to keep people in the city of new york . right now it is -- you know, they are trying to figure out new ideas to be able do more luxury housing . the housing authority , continues to be wasteland and really -- city administration, housing authority , head, continues to allow thousands of apartments to sit on the side that are vacant. city of new york needs to help focus on creating housing . that helps to keep people --

>> what does this focus mean? how do you operationalize that?

>> housing authority , proposal to put it on the grounds of housing authority land. instead of that, it is great opportunity to do middle income housing . create some income diversity within the housing authority . great opportunities if that's the focus. right now the focus doesn't exist in the city.

>> housing has always been expensive. let's not kid ourselves in new york city . but over the last decade, housing has become that much more unaffordable for now 50% of the households living in new york city . the pace of housing construction, even though mayor bloomberg had ambitious plans, it has not kept pace with the growth of the city. that's what is driving the rents up through the roof. and the -- other thing is you asked for solutions about the economic development and job creation . first and foremost, we have to get rid of these -- hundreds of millions of dollars, sometimes billions of dollars, of taxpayer subsidies given to big corporations, privilege at developers, who promise to create jobs. then through some of the audit stuff that i conducted, didn't create jobs. the bloomberg administration never checked back to see if they actually created the jobs they promised. the other thing we need to do is we need to help middle class people. we immediate to help working men and women take more -- take home more of their pay. would you believe that in the city of new york , we -- essentially have a flat income tax . something that's -- roundly rejected everywhere else in the country. you pay the same amount of tax. i propose a tax system that's far more progressive.

>> i don't think we do have a fair -- flat income tax . i disagree with john and p it is progress.

>> slightly gradual.

>> don't forget, new york city now with the -- with new york state increasing the tax rate p. you are talking about some people paying 54% of their income in taxes. it is pretty high. i don't think that's a big problem. i think we -- one of the things i want -- always point out when i passed the living wage law, giuliani called it forgive sxlus would destroy the economy. nothing happened. minimum -- would need to raise the minimum wage . it has a multiplier effect. it helps -- we are all better off.

>> let me play devil's advocate. you are all --

>> while you are doing that can i have a scone?

>> yes.

>> thank you.

>> you are all on the democrats. when we are talking about the solutions and income and inequality, let me channel the voice of the mayor or -- some other new york billionaire. which is like -- you know, you -- all well and good. you know. all well and good. soak the rich and make the income taxes more graduated. you are going to -- no, no. i know. ullman date high perfect wages for businesses and you want the business to get everybody five days sick leave . aren't we going to destroy the engine, miracle, the economic miracle , that is new york city ? which keeps the city thriving. this is argument that comes up every time.

>> there is no evidence that the rich will thering away from new york city because we are asking more of them. i have proposed, for example, upper income tax , folks that make a half million or more, we can fix our school systems and can have early childhood education . real after school programs we have been movation way from because of budget cuts. bloomberg , when i said that, exact same response you would expect. from bloomberg . he said, feed people, the rich are going to leave new york city . it is going to undermine our economy. there is no evidence of that. in fact, what's undermining our economy is this huge income disparity and school system that's failing to help people be ready for the --

>> cookie cutters here.

>> no.

>> disagree with bill's proposal to tax people more in the city. in manhattan --

>> yes, they are people, too.

>> believe it or not, middle class .

>> half is not middle class .

>> all that -- hold that. people watching this, other parts of the country really throwing things at the television when you say that.

>> bottom line is that we are -- new york state, state imposing high tax as they should is -- if you are earning over $400,000 a year, paying 54% of your income.

>> relative on other places in the country.

>> go over 50%, becomes counterproductive. what bill is doing is counterproduce.

>> hold that thought. i want you to respond to my channeling of a skeptical billionaire.