Middle Class Death Watch -- 33 Frightening Economic Developments
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“The promise of the American dream has given many hope that they themselves could one day rise up the economic ladder. But according to a study released those already in financially-stable circumstances should fear falling down a few rungs too. The study… found that nearly a third of Americans who were part of the middle class as teenagers in the 1970s have fallen out of it as adults… its findings suggest the relative ease with which people in the U.S. can end up in low-income, low-opportunity lifestyles — even if they started out with a number of advantages. Though the American middle class has been repeatedly invoked as a key factor in any economic turnaround, numerous reports have suggested that the middle class enjoys less existential security than it did a generation ago, thanks to stagnating incomes and the decline of the industrial sector.”
“The idea that children will grow up to be better off than their parents is a central component of the American Dream, and sustains American optimism. However, Downward Mobility from the Middle Class: Waking up from the American Dream finds that a middle-class upbringing does not guarantee the same status over the course of a lifetime. A third of Americans raised in the middle class—defined here as those between the 30th and 70th percentiles of the income distribution—fall out of the middle as adults.”
“This spring, there were 21.8 million “doubled-up” households across the nation, a 10.7 percent increase from the 19.7 million households in the spring of 2007, the Census Bureau said. That means 18.3 percent of all households were combined households.”
“They are known as the last resort. Millions of Americans are staying in budget long-stay motels as the country’s economic problems get worse. The grisly rooms are seen as the lowest of the U.S. housing ladder, only just above a cardboard box. In tiny rooms with paper-thin walls and nylon sheets, vulnerable Americans are making their homes for a few hundred bucks a month.”
“The economic downturn and the government’s deep cuts to welfare will drive up homelessness over the next few years, raising the spectre of middle class people living on the streets, a major study warns. The report by the homelessness charity Crisis says there is a direct link between the downturn and rising homelessness as cuts to services and draconian changes to benefits shred the traditional welfare safety net.”
“More than two years into the economic recovery, there isn’t yet a light at the end of the tunnel for California’s economy and stubborn unemployment. The number of job losses in the state is still much higher than the worst moments of the 2001 and 1990 recessions…. The state’s jobless rate hit 12% last month, the second worst in the nation. A broader measure of unemployment — which also includes part-time workers and people outside the labor force who have been looking for a job — is 22% in California and 24% in Los Angeles, while the national average is only 16.5%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The impact on children has been brutal: since 2007, 7% of the state’s children have had a foreclosure process started on their homes, the fourth-highest level in the nation, according to a study released this month by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. And families can rely less on welfare because state and federal budget crises have cut social services.”