We have some startling new figures on how difficult it is for the middle class to get by. We have new numbers through the Joint Economic Committee through the work of Elizabeth Warren, that, in fact, the middle class family has lost $2,000 per year in wages for the last eight years. And the expenses have now gone up about $4,400 per year. That's a net loss, Mr. President, of $6,400 per year. $6,400 per year. And if you have family child care, you can add in additional $1,500 per year. This is not the cost. This is how much more expensive it was than eight years ago. So you're seeing more and more families in debt. More and more families having trouble getting by with the failed economic policies of this administration. And we're now, as we've seen from the events of the week facing an enormous financial crisis.
Probably the largest that we've seen since the great depression. Although the administration is still wary to admit this is a recession, job loss -- the jobs that are lost, we have seen more and more jobs lost over the eight months time and time again. And now many institutions that have been on Wall Street for decades, some for a century, are finding themselves in the same position as many families were when their house was foreclosed on with nowhere to go. Secretaries with nothing to their name. People who had stocks in the company, who was depending on that stock for their future with nothing to their name.
This week we saw things take a turn for the worse. I can tell you what chairman Bernanke was in front of our Joint Economic Committee back in April during the Bear Stearns buyout there was some talk about how to stabilize things but Wall Street was simply in denial. When you look at this past decade you see it's as a decade of greed a decade of risk, a decade of fear when these deals were made. Jumbo mortgages, securities with no backing too much -- too much, too much. You look at Indy Mac in California, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, A.I.G., all of these firms insisted they were insolvent until the 11th hour, a practice that put everyone's savings at risk. Next week in the Joint Economic Committee, we will hear from Chairman Bernanke in discussing exactly where we go from here.
I believe in this country I believe that we will move forward. But I can tell you that the lax regulation, the decaying agencies and some of the people that were put in charge of them have led us to where we are today. I saw it firsthand on the Commerce Committee. When we saw what happened with the consumer protection agency, a shadow of its former self. 50% less employees than it had during the Reagan agency. A big surprise when the toxic toys were coming in from places like China there was no one there to mind the store. There was a guy in the back room named bob. No one was willing to enforce the rules, as a former prosecutor beings you can have all of the laws that you want on the books, but if you don't have anyone enforcing them and you don't have people committed with a purpose to making sure that regular people are protected in this economy, it's not going to matter what laws are on the books.
We also had rampant change in some of our regulations and the Enron loophole. We had the Chair of the Commodity Future Trade Commission before a joint meeting with our Agriculture Committee. And I asked, I said, don't you want some more tools in your arsenal so you can maybe look at what trades are going on and the speculation going on in foreign countries? Even if you don't want to use them, don't you want the tools that we could give you?
As a prosecutor, I figure I wouldn't use every law on the books, but I would want tools to look at things. And he said, no, we're fine the way we are. It was that attitude, Mr. President that got us to where we are today. We're going to have to change things in this country and we're going to have to get balance in this country.
I believe in vigorous entrepreneurship. My state is home to nine fortune 500 companies, many thriving small industries, we believe in entrepreneurship in our state. We also believe there must be a balance, fairness, and someone minding the store. That's what has been lacking over the last eight years. Now, Mr. President, we do have an opportunity, as we look at how we're going to get this economy. I mentioned that there was so much greed and not enough fear in the last eight years, well, now we stand on the precipice, where we don't have too much fear, we want to move forward as an economy.
There is one thing that we know that we can do immediately in the next few days, and that is make sure the incentives are in place to keep moving forward with this new green economy to compete with other countries and have the right incentives in place. And they are talking about the extenders for renewable energy that led to a boon in my state we're third in the country with wind energy. Southwestern Minnesota is home to hundreds of large-scale wind turbines to help us to make -- to make us a leader in wind power. These wind farms have spurred a rural economic renaissance in that part of our state. I will give you a few examples and a few examples of hope for this economy as we look forward and how we can put incentives in place so we can keep going.
I see my friend across the aisle from Kansas. I know he has a picture of a wind turbine in his front office. We know that there is a future here for this country with the development in this area. In 1995 and this is just an example for Minnesota SMI and Hydraulics Inc. began their business in Porter, Minnesota as a welder repair shop. Today SMI and Hydraulics manufactures the bases for the wind towers that we see across the country; they just recently expanded the facility to 100,000 square feet and created 100 new jobs in this small town. It is a barn with wind turbine bases that come out of the barn. It’s an amazing success story.
Last year the renewable electricity sector pumped more than $20 billion into the economy, generating tens of thousands of jobs in construction, transportation, and manufacturing. Throughout the country renewable energy has led us down a path toward new jobs, lower energy bills, and enhanced economic development. We need to move this country forward.
For me and the state of Minnesota and so many areas across this country, the protection tax credit is critical to realizing this goal. The production tax credit in combination with strong state renewable electricity standards has been a major driver of wind-power development in Minnesota. That was why I was concerned we might lose it. All of the studies show that if you let it go about eight months before it is forecasted to go out, you have a drop, an enormous drop in investment. And that's exactly what we don't need right now in this country.
We need a plan. We need to go forward and I personally would like to see it go into effect three, four, five years, I have a bill with Senator Snowe and Senator Cantwell to put it in effect for five years. About but if all we can agree on is to extend it for another year for wind, solar, geothermal and all kinds of renewable products and waste to energy, that's what we should do. I will try. We're working on a bipartisan basis, with a group of senators, Mr. President, to extend it to at least three years for renewable fuel sources.
Because as we struggle with this economy, we know as we say in Minnesota, the approach is not going to be just a silver bullet; it will be a silver buck shot. It will involve all kinds of energy production and increased oil production, but it will also in serve looking at things in a new way. While other countries have leap frogged us when we developed the technology for wind and solar in, we have been leap frogged. Anyone who watched the Olympics in china knows what we're up against on the world stage for competition when they saw not only the athletes from all over the world, they saw the precision in which the Chinese were able to pull off that opening ceremony. We have to be get our act together for the economy and be sensible and not look for one-day solutions. We have to have a plan for this economy. This is a start. We have to have balance in the regulatory system so that our economy can function and our businesses can function as they were meant to. With that, Mr. President, I thank you for the opportunity to speak today.