Middle-class folks are finding that a raise or second paycheck doesn't always mean living better. Time to work less?
Eighteen months after being laid off, Judith Lederman, a 50-year-old divorcee who lives in Scarsdale, N.Y., is ready to consider jobs paying half the $120,000 she earned as a publicity manager at Lord & Taylor. That's mostly because she's desperate, but it also makes sense when you consider how this country punishes work effort. While the first $60,000 of her income would be lightly taxed, the next $60,000 would be hit with what is in effect a 79% tax rate. [emphasis mine] Given a choice between a part-time or easy job paying $60,000 and a demanding, stress-ridden job paying $120,000, Lederman would be wise to take the former. In the tougher job she would be contributing twice as much to the economy. But she wouldn't be doing herself much good. It would make more sense to take it easy and spend more time with her high school senior daughter, Casey.