DES MOINES, Iowa -- Labor Day parades can be a day for labor unions to try to show their value to American workers. The parades also bring attention to the workforce. And employees along the Des Moines Labor Day parade route said they don't feel like they are getting ahead in life like they once did.
Laurie and Jerry Stephens keep an optimistic view of their lives with their two children these days. Laurie said, "We're not doing too bad...I don't know...What do you think?" she asked her husband.
Jerry replied, "I think things could definitely be a lot worse."
But the Stephens, who say they both work, know too many people getting little or no raises, making them feel like families haven't really recovered from the 2007 Great Recession. And economists figure that bleak economic period actually officially ended in 2009.
A survey from the liberal think tank, The Economic Policy Institute, found only people making in the 80th percentile are actually seeing their real wages improving since 2007. That takes into account factors like pay raises and inflation. A person needs to make $29.54 per hour or $61,443.00 a year to reach that level.
That means four out of five people either aren't making gains or are actually losing ground financially when it comes to their real wages.
"Kick it down," Laurie Stephens said, "Kick it down to the little guy because we're working every day to make ends meet."
Stephens said her hope is that politicians convince the company bosses that it is time to start thinking of the lower and middle class again. And to make sure politicians remember what it's like to be concerned about their weekly paychecks, Stephens has an idea. "I think the politicians should be unemployed for a while," she said.
Yearly raises are increasing, according to a survey, although they are still not as high as they were before the Great Recession. The survey found average increases to be around 3% in 2014. But that is 1-2% lower than what they used to typically be.