Goodbye Middle Class: 50 Percent Of American Workers Make Less Than 33,000 Dollars A Year

The truth is that most American families are deeply struggling, but you hardly ever hear this from the mainstream media. Yes, about 10 percent of all American workers are making $100,000 or more a year, but most of those high paying jobs are concentrated in the major cities along the east and west coasts. For much of the rest of the country, these are very challenging times as the cost of living soars but their paychecks do not. According to the Social Security Administration, the median income in the United States last year was just $32,838.05. In other words, 50 percent of American workers made more than $32,838.05 and 50 percent of American workers made less than $32,838.05 in 2018. Let’s be generous and round that number up to $33,000, and when you break it down on a monthly basis it comes to just $2,750 a month. Of course nobody can support a middle class lifestyle for a family of four on $2,750 a month before taxes, and so in most families more than one person is working these days. In fact, in many families today more than one person is working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet, and it still is often not quite enough.

If you want to look at the Social Security wage statistics for yourself, you can find them right here. As you will see, I am not making these numbers up.

These days many would have us feel bad if we are not making at least $100,000 a year, but according to the report only about 10 percent of all American workers make that much money.

Instead, most Americans are in what I would call “the barely getting by” category. Here are some key facts that I pulled out of the report…

-33 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-46 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-58 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-67 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

That means that approximately two-thirds of all American workers are making $4,000 or less a month before taxes.

Ouch.

But these numbers help us to understand why survey after survey has shown that most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. After paying the bills, there just isn’t much money left for most of us.

And for an increasing number of Americans, even paying the bills has become exceedingly difficult. In fact, a brand new report from UBS says that 44 percent of all U.S. consumers “don’t make enough money to cover their expenses”…

Low-income consumers are struggling to make ends meet despite the “greatest economy ever,” and if a recession strikes or the employment cycle continues to decelerate — this could mean the average American with insurmountable debts will likely fall behind on their debt servicing payments, according to a UBS report, first reported by Bloomberg.

UBS analyst Matthew Mish wrote in a recent report that 44% of consumers don’t make enough money to cover their expenses.

That means that about half the country is flat broke and struggling just to survive financially.

Of course those at the top of the economic food chain often don’t have a lot of sympathy for those that are hurting. Many of them have the attitude that those that are struggling should just go out and get one of the “good jobs” that the mainstream media is endlessly touting.

But most jobs in the United States are not “good jobs”.

Today, the poverty level for a household of four in the United States is $25,750. More than 40 percent of the workers in this country make less than that each year.

Starting a business is always an option, but that takes money, and thanks to government regulations it is harder than ever to run a small business successfully.

Just look at what is happening to our dairy farmers. There are few occupations that are more quintessentially “American” than being a dairy farmer, and since most people drink milk and eat cheese, you would think that it would be a pretty safe profession.

But instead, dairy farms are shutting down at a pace that is absolutely chilling all over the nation. For example, just check out what has been going on in Wisconsin

Wisconsin lost another 42 dairy farms in July, and since January 1, has lost 491 farms, reports the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

At this rate, the Dairy State could lose 735 dairy farms this year, which would be a decline of 9%. In 2018, the state lost 691 farms, a rate of decline of 7.9%.

Over the last decade the state has lost more than 5,000 farms, or 40% of its licensed dairy farms. To state the obvious, the current rate of exits is more than double that of the last decade.

So why is this happening?

Government.

In profession after profession, government control freaks have made it nearly impossible to make a living, and this has pushed the percentage of Americans that are self-employed to historic lows.

If you are struggling right now, I want you to know that you are not alone. There are tens of millions of other Americans that are really hurting in this economy, and the bad news is that economic conditions will soon get a lot worse.

But you can make it through whatever is ahead. You just have to keep believing.

A lot of people accuse me of spreading “doom and gloom”, but that is not true at all. There is hope in understand what is happening, and there is hope in getting prepared for the hard times that are ahead. When you take steps to prepare, you are telling yourself and everyone around you that you believe that you can make it through the storm that is coming.

Or you could just have blind faith in the system, even though it is exceedingly obvious that the system is crumbling all around us. Those that are blindly trusting the system to take care of them are building their dreams on a foundation of sand, and when the waves come crashing in those dreams are going to get washed away very quickly.

About the Author: I am a voice crying out for change in a society that generally seems content to stay asleep. I am the publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News, and the articles that I publish on those sites are republished on dozens of other prominent websites all over the globe. I have written four books that are available on Amazon.com including The Beginning Of The End, Get Prepared Now, and Living A Life That Really Matters. (#CommissionsEarned) By purchasing those books you help to support my work. I always freely and happily allow others to republish my articles on their own websites, but due to government regulations I can only allow this to happen if this “About the Author” section is included with each article. In order to comply with those government regulations, I need to tell you that the controversial opinions in this article are mine alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of the websites where my work is republished. This article may contain opinions on political matters, but it is not intended to promote the candidacy of any particular political candidate. The material contained in this article is for general information purposes only, and readers should consult licensed professionals before making any legal, business, financial or health decisions. Those responding to this article by making comments are solely responsible for their viewpoints, and those viewpoints do not necessarily represent the viewpoints of Michael Snyder or the operators of the websites where my work is republished. I encourage you to follow me on social media on Facebook and Twitter, and any way that you can share these articles with others is a great help.

Middle Class Death Spiral: Consumers Have Never Been In More Debt, And Bankruptcies Are Surging

This wasn’t supposed to happen. During the relative economic stability of the past few years, the middle class was supposed to experience a resurgence, but instead it has just continued to be hollowed out. The cost of living has risen much faster than wages have, and as a result hard working families all over America are being stretched financially like never before. Even though most of us are working, 59 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck, and almost 50 million Americans are living in poverty. In a desperate attempt to continue their middle class lifestyles, many Americans have been piling up mountains of debt, and it has gotten to the point where we have a major crisis on our hands.

According to the New York Post, the total amount of debt that U.S. households have accumulated is about to cross the 14 trillion dollar mark for the first time ever…

Meanwhile, record American household debt, near $14 trillion including mortgages and student loans, is some $1 trillion higher than during the Great Recession of 2008. Credit card debt of $1 trillion also exceeds the 2008 peak.

Americans are spending heavily, again — and often recklessly, say analysts.

This is the exact opposite of what U.S. consumers should be doing. We can see signs of a fresh economic slowdown all around us, and consumers should be feverishly trying to get out of debt as fast as they can.

But instead, debt levels just keep setting record after record. In fact, total student loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.605 trillion dollars, and auto loan debt just hit a brand new record high of 1.174 trillion dollars.

It would be one thing if we could handle all of this debt, but that isn’t the case. Bankruptcies have been steadily rising, and according to the latest figures the number of bankruptcy filings shot up another 5 percent in the month of July

Bankruptcy petitions for consumers and businesses are on the rise. There was a 5% increase in total bankruptcy filings in July 2019 from the previous month, the American Bankruptcy Institute said this week. There were 64,283 bankruptcy filings, up from 62,241 for the same period last year.

Unfortunately, this is probably just the beginning.

Right now, most of the country is living on the edge financially, and so a major economic slowdown would inevitably cause another enormous tsunami of consumer bankruptcies like we saw in 2008.

Even now, things are already so bad that many hard working “middle class” workers in high-cost cities such as New York are so financially stretched that they have to rely on free food from local food banks

“In high-cost cities like New York, personal incomes are not often enough to pay the household bills,” Zac Hall, vice president of anti-poverty programs at the Food Bank For New York City, told The Post. “We are seeing people using consumer debt as a way to make ends meet when they come here,” he added, citing the pressures his nonprofit faces to keep up the distribution of food and meals at no cost to some 1.5 million New Yorkers.

If 1.5 million people in New York are being fed by food banks now while things are still relatively stable, how bad will things be when the economy really starts to tank?

For decades, the “almighty U.S. consumer” was one of the fundamental pillars of our economy, but now that is no longer true.

U.S. consumers simply do not have a lot of discretionary income to spend these days, and this is killing major retailers all over the nation. We are on pace to absolutely shatter the all-time record for store closings in a single year, and within the past 7 days more big retailers have announced that they will be permanently shutting down stores.

For example, Walgreens just announced that they will be closing “approximately 200 U.S. stores”

Walgreens plans to close approximately 200 U.S. stores, the company announced Tuesday in an SEC filing.

According to the document posted Tuesday on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, the move to close stores follows “a review of the real estate footprint in the United States.”

That wouldn’t be happening if the U.S. economy really was “booming”.

Here is another example that comes to us from Wolf Street

A’Gaci, a young women’s fashion retailer based in Texas, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday, for the second time, after having filed for the first time in January 2018. This time, it will liquidate. All its remaining 54 stores in seven states and Puerto Rico will be closed – the “bulk” of them by the end of this month.

In addition, we just learned that Party City is going to be closing more stores than expected in 2019

Party City is increasing the number of stores expected to shutter this year.

The New Jersey-based party supplies company said it was looking to close 55 stores throughout the year, up 10 from the May estimate of 45 stores.

I honestly don’t know what malls and shopping centers all over the U.S. are going to do. I once warned of a future in which America’s landscape would be littered with abandoned stores, and that future has now arrived.

For the moment, those at the very top of the economic pyramid are still doing okay, but the middle class is eroding a little bit more with each passing day. For much more on this, I would encourage you to check out this Youtube video by Jeremiah Babe.

I have been writing about the evisceration of the U.S. middle class for a decade, and the condition of the middle class right now is as bad as I have ever seen it.

And as we plunge into this new economic downturn, things are only going to get worse. The middle class is absolutely drowning in debt, and even a mild recession would be enough to financially wipe out millions of American families.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Goodbye Middle Class: The Percentage Of Wealth Owned By The Top 10% Just Got Even BIGGER

The middle class in America is being systematically eviscerated, and it is getting worse with each passing year. As you will see below, one new study has found that 10 percent of Americans now own 70 percent of all the wealth. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but pretty soon we are just going to have the ultra-wealthy and everyone else. Our system has been designed to funnel as much wealth as possible to the very top of the financial pyramid, and that means that most of the rest of us are deeply struggling. And when you are just barely getting by from month to month, all it takes is one bad break to knock you completely out of the middle class and into poverty.

I have been chronicling the demise of the middle class for many years, but I didn’t know that the numbers had gotten this bad. According to a study that was recently conducted by the Federal Reserve, the percentage of wealth controlled by the top 10 percent of U.S. households has shot up from 60 percent in 1989 to 70 percent today

Deutsche Bank’s Torsten Sløk says that the distribution of household wealth in America has become even more disproportionate over the past decade, with the richest 10% of U.S. households representing 70% of all U.S. wealth in 2018, compared with 60% in 1989, according to a recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve.

The study finds that the share of wealth among the richest 1% increased to 32% from 23% over the same period.

The ironic thing is that the Federal Reserve has actually done much to cause this high concentration of wealth among the elite. In response to the last financial crisis, the Federal Reserve pumped unprecedented amounts of money into the financial system, and this has created the greatest stock market bubble in our history

The Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +2.06% has climbed nearly 300% since its closing low in March 2009, the S&P 500 index SPX, +2.14% has climbed 325%, while the Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +2.65% has soared 535% over the same period.

Meanwhile, wages have stagnated for ordinary Americans. According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is currently just $30,533. In other words, 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, and 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year.

$30,533 a year breaks down to approximately $2,500 per month, and you simply can’t support a middle class lifestyle for a typical American family on $2,500 a month.

Meanwhile, the cost of living for middle class families has exploded higher over the past few decades…

Everyday expenses continue to rise, and as the shadow inflation increases, it also threatens to wipe out the middle class – what’s left of it anyway. In fact, middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago, according to a separate report by CNBC. The cost of things such as college, housing, and child care has risen precipitously: Tuition at public universities doubled between 1996 and 2016 and housing prices in popular cities have quadrupled, Alissa Quart, author and executive director of the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, tells CNBC Make It.

As the cost of living has risen faster than our incomes have, more Americans have been squeezed out of the middle class with each passing month.

As a result, an increasing number of Americans have become financially dependent on the government, and our rapidly expanding welfare state is a big reason why the federal government is now 22 trillion dollars in debt.

Of course many Americans are no longer able to make it at all, and the ranks of the homeless are swelling all over the nation. In fact, we just got some brand new numbers about the growth of homelessness in the Los Angeles area that are absolutely eye-popping

The number of homeless people counted across Los Angeles County jumped 12% over the past year to nearly 59,000, with more young and old residents and families on the streets, officials said Tuesday.

The majority of the homeless were found within the city of Los Angeles, which saw a 16% increase to 36,300, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said in presenting January’s annual count to the county Board of Supervisors.

Yes, it is true that we have a record number of millionaires on the west coast in 2019, but meanwhile our major west coast cities are being transformed into rotting, decaying nightmares right in front of our eyes.

During a recent interview with Laura Ingraham, Dr. Drew Pinsky admitted that there is “a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now”

“We have a complete breakdown of the basic needs of civilization in Los Angeles right now,” Pinsky told host Laura Ingraham. “We have the three prongs of airborne disease, tuberculosis is exploding, (and) rodent-borne. We are one of the only cities in the country that doesn’t have a rodent control program, and sanitation has broken down.”

Pinsky’s comments followed news that Los Angeles police officer had contracted typhoid fever, a rare and life-threatening illness that fewer than 350 Americans contract each year.

Los Angeles had a typhus outbreak last summer and will likely have another this summer, Pinsky said. Meanwhile, bubonic plague – a pandemic that killed tens of millions of people during the 14th century – is “likely” already present in Los Angeles, Pinsky added.

Despite all of our great wealth and despite all of our advanced technology, this is what life is like in our second largest city right now.

And if things are degenerating this badly during stable times, what are things going to look like once our society plunges into chaos?

Ultimately, the American Dream is about being self-sufficient. Most people want to be able to work hard and provide a nice life for their families, but that is becoming harder and harder to do.

No matter which political party has been in power in Washington, the middle class has continued to shrink and more wealth and power has become concentrated in the hands of the elite.

Now we stand on the precipice of the next major economic downturn, and many are deeply concerned about what that is going to mean for the future of our society.

Get Prepared NowAbout the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News. From there, his articles are republished on dozens of other prominent websites. If you would like to republish his articles, please feel free to do so. The more people that see this information the better, and we need to wake more people up while there is still time.

Two-Thirds Of Americans Think That They Are Middle Class – But Millions Of Them Are Dead Wrong

The middle class has been steadily shrinking, but most Americans still believe that they are a part of it. Perhaps this is due at least in part to the egalitarian values which have been pounded into our heads for most of our lives. Very few Americans would have the gall to define themselves as “upper class”, and I have never met anyone that would describe themselves as “lower class”. In place of “lower class”, many politicians now like to use the much more politically correct term “working class”, but a more apt description might be “the working poor”. Today, half of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year, and you certainly cannot support a middle class lifestyle for a family with children on that kind of income.

Our incomes have stagnated as the cost of living has soared, and the middle class has experienced steady erosion as a result. But despite all that, 68 percent of all Americans still consider themselves to be “middle class”

That’s according to new data from Northwestern Mutual’s 2018 Planning & Progress Study, which found that 68 percent of Americans consider themselves middle-class, down 2 percent from last year. However, because of the fuzziness of the definition, far more Americans consider themselves middle-class than technically qualify based on income.

In reality, the middle class now makes up just over 50 percent of the total U.S. population, according to a recent report from Pew Research Center, which used 2016 data. That’s compared to 61 percent in 1971.

So according to that survey, somewhere around 18 percent of all Americans wrongly believe that they belong to the middle class.

There are 325 million people living in the United States today, and so we are potentially talking about 58 million people that think that they are middle class but really aren’t.

Other surveys have come up with similar numbers. For example, one recent survey discovered that 22 percent of non-middle income Americans identified themselves as middle income

Overall, 22 percent of the non-middle-income Americans surveyed incorrectly classified themselves as middle income. The majority of those people are actually lower-income, with approximately 19 percent of the low-income Americans surveyed defining themselves as middle income. Only approximately 2 percent of upper-income Americans mistakenly defined themselves as middle income.

Of course even if someone can be defined as “middle income” does not necessarily mean that things are going well.

Today, most Americans are living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Living on the edge financially can be a constant source of stress, and it can easily start taking over your entire life. To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you a short excerpt from a recent article by Lauren Wellbank

Like so many Americans, we struggle to get by each and every month. The compounding interest we rack up by always being a breath away from being broke plays a large role in that. We pay interest on purchases that we can’t afford to pay out of pocket in the moment (like our electric bill when my pay was short last month), and then we pay late fees when we have to take advantage of that grace period. Our monthly payments never go down because we can’t get out in front of any of it.

All of this has a psychological and emotional impact. I’m constantly running our budget through my mind, trying to reassure myself that the numbers will work out this month. I’m never not thinking about money. I dread going to the store or having to buy gas because each purchase moves us closer back down to that zero balance. The anxiety over our finances never goes away.

Have you ever been there?

Perhaps you are there right now. If so, you are definitely not alone. Most American families are deeply struggling, and it is getting worse with each passing year.

Meanwhile, the folks at the very top of the pyramid have been thriving. In fact, one study discovered that the gap between the wealthy and the poor in the United States is the largest that it has been since the 1920s.

We truly are living in a “new Gilded Age”, and the biggest winners have been those in the “top 0.1 percent”. The following comes from Matthew Stewart

It is in fact the top 0.1 percent who have been the big winners in the growing concentration of wealth over the past half century. According to the UC Berkeley economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the 160,000 or so households in that group held 22 percent of America’s wealth in 2012, up from 10 percent in 1963. If you’re looking for the kind of money that can buy elections, you’ll find it inside the top 0.1 percent alone.

It has been said that money cannot buy happiness, and that is true.

But without a doubt the numbers show that there are some tremendous disadvantages to being poor. Here is more from Stewart

Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and liver disease are all two to three times more common in individuals who have a family income of less than $35,000 than in those who have a family income greater than $100,000. Among low-educated, middle-aged whites, the death rate in the United States—alone in the developed world—increased in the first decade and a half of the 21st century. Driving the trend is the rapid growth in what the Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton call “deaths of despair”—suicides and alcohol- and drug-related deaths.

Unfortunately, economic conditions are starting to deteriorate once again, and it is those at the bottom of the totem poll that are going to feel the pain first.

The period of relative stability that we had been enjoying is rapidly ending, and just about everyone can see that hard times are ahead of us.

A new survey of corporate CFOs was just released that contains some eye-popping numbers. It turns out that 49 percent of them believe that a recession will start by the end of next year, and a whopping 82 percent of them believe that a recession will have started by the end of 2020

Considering that major corporations have been busy shedding workers, it follows that corporate finance leaders see a U.S. recession ahead. Evidence of a slowing economy has been popping up, including recent large-scale cuts in head count by U.S. corporations such as General Motors and Verizon.

Eighty-two percent of chief financial officers polled believe a recession will have started by the end 2020, and nearly 49 percent think the downturn will arrive sometime next year, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook, released Wednesday.

This is yet another example of the major psychological shift that is taking place in our nation. The overwhelming consensus is that economic activity is going to slow down, and it won’t be people with millions of dollars in their bank accounts that will be suffering.

No, once again it will mostly be people that are barely getting by that will be losing their jobs and their homes, and nobody is going to come riding to their rescue.

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

62 Percent Of All U.S. Jobs Do Not Pay Enough To Support A Middle Class Life

We just got more evidence that the middle class in America is rapidly disappearing. According to a shocking new study that was just released, 62 percent of all jobs in the United States do not pay enough to support a middle class life. That means that “the American Dream” is truly out of reach for most of the country at this point. Today, Americans are working harder than ever but the cost of living continues to rise much faster than our paychecks are increasing. Earlier this month, I went and looked at the latest numbers from the Social Security Administration, and I discovered that 50 percent of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year. But that is just above poverty level. In fact, the federal poverty level for a family of five is currently $29,420. Most families are just barely scraping by from month to month, and most U.S. workers are just one major setback away from falling out of the middle class.

It wasn’t always this way. At one time, America had the strongest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. But now this latest study has discovered that “it’s only 38 percent of people who get the middle class life or better”

When wages are weighed against the cost of living in the largest 204 metropolitan regions across the nation, 62 percent of jobs don’t pay enough for a dual-income household with children to meet the definition of ‘middle class,’ according to a new ‘Opportunity Index‘ developed by Third Way, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.

‘We were shocked to find out it’s only 38 percent of people who get the middle class life or better,’ said Ryan Bhandari, a policy advisor for Third Way, in an interview with DailyMail.com.

It is no wonder why so many people are shopping at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree these days.

For many Americans, those are the literally the only places they can afford to shop.

When I was growing up, it seemed like literally everyone else around me was “middle class”, but now those days are long gone. Here is a breakdown of some more of the numbers from this latest study

  • 30 percent of jobs are “hardship jobs,” meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet.
  • 32 percent are “living wage” jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home.
  • 23 percent are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement.
  • 15 percent are “professional jobs,” paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.

It sure must be nice to be in that top 15 percent.

And the definition of a “middle class income” changes based on where you live. As the study noted, it is much cheaper to live a middle class lifestyle in the middle of the country than it is to do so on the west coast. The following comes from the Daily Mail

For example, a worker in San Francisco – one of the most expensive housing markets in the country – must make a minimum of $82,142 to achieve a middle class lifestyle.

By comparison, workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa can achieve middle class status in a job paying $40,046 or more per year.

So many of us have run ourselves ragged doing the things that we were “supposed” to do, and we assumed that a middle class life would be the reward at the end of the trail.

Unfortunately, that reward has never materialized for millions of hard working Americans. USA Today profiled one of those deeply frustrated workers in a recent article…

Esther Akutekha, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a good job as a public relations specialist that pays more than $50,000 a year.

But because of the $1,440 a month rent on her studio apartment in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, she never takes vacations, dines out just once a month and scrapes together dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.

Can you identify with Esther?

I sure can.

It can be soul crushing to work as hard as you can only to realize that your goals are now farther away than ever. At this point, Esther is not even sure that she will ever be able to afford to have children

“I’m frustrated with the fact that I’m not going to be able to save anything because my rent is so high,” says Akutekha, who says she’s 30ish. “I don’t even know if I can afford” to have children.

We have been told that the economy has been “booming” in recent years, but the truth is that it has only been booming for people at the very top of the pyramid.

For most Americans it is as if the last recession never ended, and things just seem to keep getting worse

“There’s an opportunity crisis in the country,” says Jim Kessler, vice president of policy for Third Way and editor of the report. “It explains some of the economic uneasiness and, frankly, the political uneasiness” even amid the most robust U.S. economy and labor market since before the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. But is the economy robust? Or are we being fed a line by the mainstream media? The middle class is not thriving, and increased regulations and higher taxes make it difficult for people to branch out on their own and create their own business.

We definitely need to make it much, much easier for people to start small businesses, and this is something that I have written about extensively. Small business creation has traditionally been one of the primary vehicles for upward mobility in our nation, but right now the rate of small business creation is hovering near all-time lows. We desperately need to get that turned around if we ever want to have any hope of restoring vitality to our middle class.

If we continue on the path that we are on, we are going to continue to get the same results. Tonight, more than half a million Americans are homeless, and the ranks of the poor are growing with each passing day.

America needs a strong middle class, but currently our middle class is disintegrating at a startling pace.

If we are not able to reverse this trend, what is the future going to look like for our society?

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Middle Class Destroyed: 50 Percent Of All American Workers Make Less Than $30,533 A Year

The middle class in America has been declining for decades, and we continue to get even more evidence of the catastrophic damage that has already been done. According to the Social Security Administration, the median yearly wage in the United States is just $30,533 at this point. That means 50 percent of all American workers make at least that much per year, but that also means that 50 percent of all American workers make that much or less per year. When you divide $30,533 by 12, you get a median monthly wage of just over $2,500. But of course nobody can provide a middle class standard of living for a family of four for just $2,500 a month, and we will discuss this further below. So in most households at least two people are working, and in many cases multiple jobs are being taken on by a single individual in a desperate attempt to make ends meet. The American people are working harder than ever, and yet the middle class just continues to erode.

The deeper we dig into the numbers provided by the Social Security Administration, the more depressing they become. Here are just a few examples from their official website

-34 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-48 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-59 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-68 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

At this moment, the federal poverty level for a family of five is $29,420, and yet about half the workers in the entire country don’t even make that much on a yearly basis.

So can someone please explain to me again why people are saying that the economy is “doing well”?

Many will point to how well the stock market has been doing, but the stock market has not been an accurate barometer for the overall economy in a very, very long time.

And the stock market has already fallen nearly 1,500 points since the beginning of the month. The bull market appears to be over and the bears are licking their chops.

No matter who has been in the White House, and no matter which political party has controlled Congress, the U.S. middle class has been systematically eviscerated year after year. Many that used to be thriving may still even call themselves “middle class”, but that doesn’t make it true.

You would think that someone making “the median income” in a country as wealthy as the United States would be doing quite well. But the truth is that $2,500 a month won’t get you very far these days.

First of all, your family is going to need somewhere to live. Especially on the east and west coasts, it is really hard to find something habitable for under $1,000 a month in 2018. If you live in the middle of the country or in a rural area, housing prices are significantly cheaper. But for the vast majority of us, let’s assume a minimum of $1,000 a month for housing costs.

Secondly, you will also need to pay your utility bills and other home-related expenses. These costs include power, water, phone, television, Internet, etc. I will be extremely conservative and estimate that this total will be about $300 a month.

Thirdly, each income earner will need a vehicle in order to get to work. In this example we will assume one income earner and a car payment of just $200 a month.

So now we are already up to $1,500 a month. The money is running out fast.

Next, insurance bills will have to be paid. Health insurance premiums have gotten ridiculously expensive in recent years, and many family plans are now well over $1,000 a month. But for this example let’s assume a health insurance payment of just $450 a month and a car insurance payment of just $50 a month.

Of course your family will have to eat, and I don’t know anyone that can feed a family of four for just $500 a month, but let’s go with that number.

So now we have already spent the entire $2,500, and we don’t have a single penny left over for anything else.

But wait, we didn’t even account for taxes yet. When you deduct taxes, our fictional family of four is well into the red every month and will need plenty of government assistance.

This is life in America today, and it isn’t pretty.

In his most recent article, Charles Hugh Smith estimated that an income of at least $106,000 is required to maintain a middle class lifestyle in America today. That estimate may be a bit high, but not by too much.

Yes, there is a very limited sliver of the population that has been doing well in recent years, but most of the country continues to barely scrape by from month to month. Out in California, Silicon Valley has generated quite a few millionaires, but the state also has the highest poverty in the entire nation. For every Silicon Valley millionaire, there are thousands upon thousands of poor people living in towns such as Huron, California

Nearly 40 percent of Huron residents — and almost half of all children — live below the poverty line, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That’s more than double the statewide rate of 19 percent reported last month, which is the highest in the U.S. The national average is 12.3 percent.

“We’re in the Appalachians of the West,” Mayor Rey Leon said. “I don’t think enough urgency is being taken to resolve a problem that has existed for way too long.”

Multiple families and boarders pack rundown homes, only about a quarter of residents have high school diplomas and most lack adequate health care in an area plagued with diabetes and high asthma rates in one the nation’s most polluted air basins.

One recent study found that the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s, and America’s once thriving middle class is evaporating right in front of our eyes.

We could have made much different choices as a society, but we didn’t, and now we are going to have a great price to pay for our foolishness…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

Middle Class Erosion: 33 Million Americans Will Not Travel During The Holidays Because They Can’t Afford To Do So

We have repeatedly been told that the U.S. economy is “booming”, but meanwhile the middle class in the United States continues to be hollowed out. The financial bubbles that the Federal Reserve has created have been a great blessing for those at the very top of the economic pyramid, but most of the country is still deeply struggling. According to one survey, 78 percent of all full-time workers in the U.S. live paycheck to paycheck, and that doesn’t even include part-time workers or those that are unemployed. We have also been told that unemployment is “low”, but the real numbers tell us that there are more working age Americans without a job in 2018 than there was at any point during the last recession. Most of the people that my wife and I know are struggling, and I continually get emails from readers all over the country that are struggling. The sad truth is that the middle class is slowly but surely dying, and more people are falling into poverty with each passing day.

And we got more evidence of this fact on Tuesday. According to one new survey, 33 million Americans will not travel during the holiday season because they simply cannot afford to do so…

Wallet Hub’s Winter Travel Survey has revealed a disturbing trend: 33 million Americans won’t travel this winter because they can’t afford it.

I have been warning about the effect that rising interest rates would have on the economy, and rising rates are being blamed for this travel slowdown. The following comes from MSN

However, Americans are still feeling the pinch of the pocketbook—part of that has to do with rising interest rates.

“U.S. consumers will be shelling out billions of dollars in extra charges they otherwise could be spending on other things such as travel,” said Mark A. Bonn, director of the resort and vacation rental management program at Florida State University. “This makes it difficult to travel now, let alone after the holiday spending has ended.”

But of course the truth is that most Americans were deeply struggling long before interest rates started to rise.

Those of us in our prime working years can try to work even harder to make ends meet, but when you are elderly and on a fixed income, there is little that can be done.

According to the Sacramento Bee, 9 million elderly Americans across the country “can’t afford to eat”, and in one of their recent articles they featured the plight of 71-year-old Floridian Janet Burke…

Burke is one of the nearly 9 million elderly people at risk of hunger in the United States. In Florida, with the highest percentage of people 60 and older, more than 750,000 elderly need food assistance, according to experts.

The problems confronting the elderly have become one of the hot topics for candidates this election year. Candidates in South Florida have pointed to the needs of the elderly as one of the key concerns voiced by voters.

More than 100 million Americans receive assistance from the government each month, but many citizens do not believe in receiving any help and so they just quietly suffer as they search for a way to make things better.

Today, I would like to share with you a testimony from someone that has been there. My good friend Daisy Luther knows what it is like to barely survive from month to month, and the way that she described those struggles in one of her most recent articles was extremely poignant

Let’s talk about poverty.

I don’t mean the kind you’re talking about when your friends invite you to go shopping or for a night out and you say, “No, I can’t. I’m poor right now.”

I don’t mean the situation when you’d like to get a nicer car but decide you should just stick to the one you have because you don’t have a few thousand for a down payment.

I don’t mean the scene at the grocery store when you decide to get ground beef instead of steak.

I’m talking about when you have already done the weird mismatched meals from your pantry that are made up of cooked rice, stale crackers, and a can of peaches, and you’ve moved on to wondering what on earth you’re going to feed your kids.

Or when you get an eviction notice for non-payment of rent, a shut-off notice for your utilities, and a repo notice for your car and there’s absolutely nothing you can do about any of those notices because there IS NO MONEY.

If you’ve never been this level of broke, I’m very glad.

I have been this broke. I know that it is soul-destroying when no matter how hard you work, how many part-time jobs you squeeze in, and how much you cut, you simply don’t make enough money to survive in the world today.

If the U.S. economy really is “booming”, then why are millions upon millions of American families struggling like this?

Sadly, it is because the truth is that the U.S. economy is not “booming”, and we continue to get more indications that another major economic downturn is imminent.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Blueprints have been proposed that would mean much better days ahead for America, but most Americans seem quite content with the status quo.

Most Americans seem to want corrupt politicians in Washington, a Federal Reserve system that is bankrupting future generations, an exploding national debt, a deeply oppressive system of taxation and a bloated national government that is becoming more monstrous with each passing day.

In this day and age, “liberty” and “freedom” are seen as antiquated concepts that are standing in the way of “progress”, and more government always seems to be the “solution” that is proposed whenever any crisis arises.

If we truly want to turn America around, we need to return to the values and the principles that once made this nation so great, and right now that simply is not happening…

About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Last Days Warrior Summit is the premier online event of 2018 for Christians, Conservatives and Patriots. It is a premium-members only international event that will empower and equip you with the knowledge and tools that you need as global events begin to escalate dramatically. The speaker list includes Michael Snyder, Mike Adams, Dave Daubenmire, Ray Gano, Dr. Daniel Daves, Gary Kah, Justus Knight, Doug Krieger, Lyn Leahz, Laura Maxwell and many more. Full summit access will begin on October 25th, and if you would like to register for this unprecedented event you can do so right here.

The American Dream Is Getting Smaller, And The Reason Why Is Painfully Obvious…

Over the past decade, an unprecedented stock market boom has created thousands upon thousands of new millionaires, and yet the middle class in America has continued to shrink. How is that even possible? At one time the United States had the largest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the planet, but now the gap between the wealthy and the poor is the largest that it has been since the 1920s. Our economy has been creating lots of new millionaires, but at the exact same time we have seen homelessness spiral out of control in our major cities. Today, being part of the middle class is like playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs. Each month when the music stops playing, those of us still in the middle class desperately hope that we are not among the ones that slip out of the middle class and into poverty. Well over 100 million Americans receive money or benefits from the federal government each month, and that includes approximately 40 percent of all families with children. We are losing our ability to take care of ourselves, and that has frightening implications for the future of our society.

One of the primary reasons why our system doesn’t work for everyone is because virtually everything has been financialized. In other words, from the cradle to the grave the entire system has been designed to get you into debt so that the fruits of your labor can be funneled to the top of the pyramid and make somebody else wealthier. The following comes from an excellent Marketwatch article entitled “The American Dream is getting smaller”

More worrying, perhaps: 33% of those surveyed said they think that dream is disappearing. Why? They have too much debt. “Americans believe financial security is at the core of the American Dream, but it is alarming that so many think it is beyond their reach,” said Mike Fanning, head of MassMutual U.S.

Almost everyone that will read this article will have debt. In America today, we are trained to go into debt for just about everything.

If you want a college education, you go into debt.

If you want a vehicle, you go into debt.

If you want a home, you go into debt.

If you want that nice new pair of shoes, you don’t have to wait for it. Just go into more debt.

As a result, most Americans are currently up to their necks in red ink

Some 64% of those surveyed said they have a mortgage, 56% said they had credit-card debt and 26% said they have student-loan debt. Many surveyed said they don’t feel financially secure. More than a quarter said they wish they had better control of their finances.

You would have thought that we would have learned from the very hard lessons that the crisis of 2008 taught us.

But instead, we have been on the greatest debt binge in American history in recent years. Here is more from the Marketwatch article

It makes sense that debt is on Americans’ minds. Collectively, Americans have more than $1 trillion in credit-card debt, according to the Federal Reserve. They have another $1.5 trillion in student loans, up from $1.1 trillion in 2013. Motor vehicle loans are now topping $1.1 trillion, up from $878.5 billion in 2013. And they have another nearly $15 trillion in mortgage debt outstanding.

That is one huge pile of debt.

We criticize the federal government for running up 21 trillion dollars in debt, and rightly so, but American consumers have been almost as irresponsible on an individual basis.

As long as you are drowning in debt, you will never become wealthy. In order to build wealth, you have got to spend less than you earn, but most Americans never learn basic fundamentals such as this in our rapidly failing system of public education.

Many Americans long to become financially independent, but they don’t understand that our system is rigged against them. The entire game is all about keeping consumers on that debt wheel endlessly chasing that piece of proverbial cheese until it is too late.

Getting out of debt is one of the biggest steps that you can take to give yourself more freedom, and hopefully this article will inspire many to do just that.

To end this article today, I would like to share 14 facts about how the middle class in America is shrinking that I shared in a previous article

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States. But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary. Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now. That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

This article originally appeared on The Economic Collapse Blog. About the author: Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

The Number Of Americans Living In Their Vehicles “Explodes” As The Middle Class Continues To Disappear

If the U.S. economy is really doing so well, then why is homelessness rising so rapidly? As the gap between the rich and the poor continues to increase, the middle class is steadily eroding. In fact, I recently gave my readers 15 signs that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed. More Americans are falling out of the middle class and into poverty with each passing day, and this is one of the big reasons why the number of homeless is surging. For example, the number of people living on the street in L.A. has shot up 75 percent over the last 6 years. But of course L.A. is far from alone. Other major cities on the west coast are facing similar problems, and that includes Seattle. It turns out that the Emerald City has seen a 46 percent rise in the number of people sleeping in their vehicles in just the past year

The number of people who live in their vehicles because they can’t find affordable housing is on the rise, even though the practice is illegal in many U.S. cities.

The number of people residing in campers and other vehicles surged 46 percent over the past year, a recent homeless census in Seattle’s King County, Washington found. The problem is “exploding” in cities with expensive housing markets, including Los Angeles, Portland and San Francisco, according to Governing magazine.

Amazon, Microsoft and other big tech companies are in the Seattle area. It is a region that is supposedly “prospering”, and yet this is going on.

Sadly, it isn’t just major urban areas that are seeing more people sleeping in their vehicles. Over in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, many of the homeless sleep in their vehicles even in the middle of winter

Stephanie Monroe, managing director of Children Youth & Family Services at Volunteers of America, Dakotas, tells a similar story. At least 25 percent of the non-profit’s Sioux Falls clients have lived in their vehicles at some point, even during winter’s sub-freezing temperatures.

“Many of our communities don’t have formal shelter services,” she said in an interview. “It can lead to individuals resorting to living in their cars or other vehicles.”

It is time to admit that we have a problem. The number of homeless in this country is surging, and we need to start coming up with some better solutions.

But instead, many communities are simply passing laws that make it illegal for people to sleep in their vehicles…

A recent survey by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP), which tracks policies in 187 cities, found the number of prohibitions against vehicle residency has more than doubled during the last decade.

Those laws aren’t going to solve anything.

At best, they will just encourage some of the homeless to go somewhere else.

And if our homelessness crisis is escalating this dramatically while the economy is supposedly “growing”, how bad are things going to be once the next recession officially begins?

We live at a time when the cost of living is soaring but our paychecks are not. As a result, middle class families are being squeezed like never before.

A recent Marketwatch article highlighted the plight of California history teacher Matt Barry and his wife Nicole…

Barry’s wife, Nicole, teaches as well — they each earn $69,000, a combined salary that not long ago was enough to afford a comfortable family life. But due to the astronomical costs in his area, including real estate — a 1,500-square-foot “starter home” costs $680,000 — driving for Uber was a necessity.

“Teachers are killing themselves,” Barry says in Alissa Quart’s new book, “Squeezed: Why Our Families Can’t Afford America” (Ecco), out Tuesday. “I shouldn’t be having to drive Uber at eight o’clock at night on a weekday. I just shut down from the mental toll: grading papers between rides, thinking of what I could be doing instead of driving — like creating a curriculum.”

Home prices are completely out of control, but that bubble should soon burst.

However, other elements of our cost of living are only going to become even more painful. Health care costs rise much faster than the rate of inflation every year, food prices are becoming incredibly ridiculous, and the cost of a college education is off the charts. According to author Alissa Quart, living a middle class life is “30% more expensive” than it was two decades ago…

“Middle-class life is now 30% more expensive than it was 20 years ago,” Quart writes, citing the costs of housing, education, health care and child care in particular. “In some cases the cost of daily life over the last 20 years has doubled.”

And thanks to the trade war, prices are going to start going up more rapidly than we have seen in a very long time.

On Tuesday, we learned that diaper and toilet paper prices are rising again

Procter & Gamble said on Tuesday that it was in the process of raising Pampers’ prices in North America by 4%. P&G also began notifying retailers this week that it would increase the average prices of Bounty, Charmin, and Puffs by 5%.

P&G is raising prices because commodity and transportation cost pressures are intensifying. The hikes to Bounty and Charmin will go into effect in late October, and Puffs will become more expensive beginning early next year.

I wish that I had better news for you, but I don’t. We are all going to have to work harder, smarter and more efficiently. And we are definitely going to have to tighten our belts.

Many middle class families are relying on debt to get them from month to month, and consumer debt in the United States has surged to an all-time high. But eventually a day of reckoning comes, and we all understand that.

The U.S. economy is not going to be getting any better than it is right now. So it is time to be a lean, mean saving machine, because it will be important to have a financial cushion for the hard times that are ahead of us.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Nearly 40 Million Americans Are Still On Food Stamps

If the U.S. economy is “doing well”, then why are almost 40 million Americans still on food stamps? That number is almost exactly where it was at the end of the last recession, and supposedly we have made so much progress since that time. Of course any progress that has been made has been extremely uneven. Earlier today, I wrote about how the gap between the rich and the poor in this country is the biggest that it has been since the 1920s. For years, the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program pumped “hot money” into the financial markets, and that was an enormous blessing to the top 1 percent. But meanwhile tens of millions of average families have continued to struggle and the middle class has continued to decline. In the U.S. today, 66 percent of all of our jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour, and close to 40 million Americans rely on the federal government to feed them every month. The following comes from Bloomberg

Judging by the number of Americans on food stamps, it doesn’t feel like one of the best job markets in almost a half century and the second-longest economic expansion on record.

Enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps, fell to 39.6 million in April, the most recent government data show. That’s down from a record 47.8 million in 2012, but as a share of the population it’s just back to where it was as the economy emerged from the longest and deepest downturn since the Great Depression.

It is hard to argue that we are a “prosperous nation” with a number like that hanging over our heads.

Yes, some Americans have prospered individually in recent years, but many more have been deeply suffering.

In order for a family of four to qualify for food stamps, they must make less than $2,665 a month

SNAP is available for households with incomes up to $2,665 per month for a family of four, or 130 percent of the federal poverty level. Recipients are also subject to asset and employment tests, and states can modify the program with federal permission. Households receiving SNAP had an average monthly gross income of $814 in 2016, and 20 percent had no income.

Could your family survive on just $2,665 a month?

Yet that is exactly where tens of millions of Americans find themselves today.

Yesterday I wrote about the “cesspool” that the once beautiful city of Portland, Oregon has become, and in this article I would like to share with you an excerpt from an article about the epidemic of squatters in the city of Detroit

The Detroit Land Bank owns nearly 30,000 residential structures in the city, and with as many as 4,300 of them occupied — it’s a magnitude unlike any other place.

Squatters are a tricky problem: remove them and add to the city’s homeless population and its massive inventory of abandoned buildings. Let them stay, and the land bank is summoned often to investigate what some of its occupants may be up to: dog fighting, prostitution, drug dealing, overdoses, gambling, gun possession or running a chop shop.

Detroit police also are called regularly to land bank properties to investigate dead bodies — at least 50 homicides over the last four years.

This is what life is like for much of the country today. The small sliver of our population that is “living the high life” is greatly outnumbered by people just barely surviving from month to month.

In fact, 102 million working age Americans do not have a job at this moment. In case you were wondering, that number is substantially higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

If you can believe it, during the last recession we never even hit the 100 million mark.

There are so many parallels that could be made between the current state of affairs and America in the 1920s. During the “roaring twenties”, everybody thought that the good times would last forever and that stock prices would go up indefinitely, and then one day we suddenly plunged into the worst financial crisis and the worst economic depression that the nation had ever seen.

And most people don’t even realize that we are far more vulnerable today than we have ever been in all of U.S. history. I have been sharing numbers that back up that premise on an almost daily basis, and today let me share another example with you that comes from Mike Maloney

  • Just prior to the dotcom collapse of 2000 and the hundreds of bankruptcies that followed, 9% of the S&P 1,500 were zombie companies.
  • Just prior to the 2008 financial crisis and the hundreds of bankruptcies that followed, 12% of the S&P 1,500 were zombie companies.
  • Right now, 15% of the S&P 1,500 are zombie companies.

Just like the “roaring twenties”, our current debt-fueled economic bubble will burst as well, and many believe that it will result in the worst economic crisis that America has ever known.

But as long as the music on Wall Street keeps playing, the optimists will continue to insist that “happy days are here again” and that the party can keep on going indefinitely.

Of course no party lasts forever, and eventually the moment will come when it is time to turn out the lights for good.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

15 Signs That The Middle Class In The United States Is Being Systematically Destroyed

If your family is really struggling right now, you are far from alone. I have been publishing The Economic Collapse Blog for more than eight years, and all throughout that time I have seen the middle class in America get smaller and smaller and smaller. It is almost as if we are all playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs and every month someone pulls a few more chairs from the game. Yes, there are some people that have gotten exceedingly wealthy over the past eight years, and most of that wealth is concentrated in places such as New York, Washington D.C. and San Francisco. But meanwhile, most of the rest of the country has been steadily getting poorer. Just take a look at Detroit – at one time it had the highest per capita income in the entire nation and now it is a rotting, decaying war zone. Of course dozens of other formerly great manufacturing cities all over the nation have suffered a similar fate. Since 2001, we have lost more than 70,000 manufacturing facilities and millions of good paying manufacturing jobs. Those good paying jobs have been replaced by lower paying “service jobs”, and you can’t support a middle class lifestyle on those types of jobs.

In order to have a thriving middle class, you need middle class jobs, and our country is in desperate need of more of those jobs. At this point most American families are living on the edge, and more are falling into poverty with each passing month. The following are 15 signs that the middle class in the United States is being systematically destroyed…

#1 78 million Americans are participating in the “gig economy” because full-time jobs just don’t pay enough to make ends meet these days.

#2 In 2011, the average home price was 3.56 times the average yearly salary in the United States. But by the time 2017 was finished, the average home price was 4.73 times the average yearly salary in the United States.

#3 In 1980, the average American worker’s debt was 1.96 times larger than his or her monthly salary. Today, that number has ballooned to 5.00.

#4 In the United States today, 66 percent of all jobs pay less than 20 dollars an hour.

#5 102 million working age Americans do not have a job right now. That number is higher than it was at any point during the last recession.

#6 Earnings for low-skill jobs have stayed very flat for the last 40 years.

#7 Americans have been spending more money than they make for 28 months in a row.

#8 In the United States today, the average young adult with student loan debt has a negative net worth.

#9 At this point, the average American household is nearly $140,000 in debt.

#10 Poverty rates in U.S. suburbs “have increased by 50 percent since 1990”.

#11 Almost 51 million U.S. households “can’t afford basics like rent and food”.

#12 The bottom 40 percent of all U.S. households bring home just 11.4 percent of all income.

#13 According to the Federal Reserve, 4 out of 10 Americans do not have enough money to cover an unexpected $400 expense without borrowing the money or selling something they own.

#14 22 percent of all Americans cannot pay all of their bills in a typical month.

#15 Today, U.S. households are collectively 13.15 trillion dollars in debt. That is a new all-time record.

When you think of “poverty in America”, you probably think of our blighted inner cities, but that is not where poverty is growing the fastest.

According to author Scott Allard, it is actually our suburbs where poverty is growing more rapidly than anywhere else…

According to a May report from the Pew Research Center, since 2000, suburban counties have experienced sharper increases in poverty than urban or rural counties.

This is consistent with research across the U.S. over the past decade – as well as my own book, “Places in Need.”

This is why tens of millions of square feet of retail space is being closed down and why formerly great shopping malls all over America now resemble ghost towns.

When I was growing up, the shopping mall was the place to be for average middle class kids. My family was middle class and virtually everyone that I knew was middle class. In fact, I don’t remember any really wealthy or really poor kids in my school at all.

But today most families have little to no financial cushion and are deep in debt. As a result, discretionary income has really dried up and that means less shopping.

So we are on pace for the worst year for store closings in American history, and yet the mainstream media keeps telling us that the economy is in “good shape”.

That is a load of nonsense. The numbers don’t lie, and the U.S. economy is never going to be in “good shape” until the middle class starts growing again.

Is there a solution?

Well, the mayor of Stockton, California seems convinced that the solution is just to give people free money. The following comes from Reuters

Michael Tubbs, the 27-year-old mayor of Stockton, California, has a radical plan to combat poverty in his cash-strapped city: a “no strings” guaranteed basic income of $500 a month for its residents.

Starting in early 2019, Tubbs plans to provide the monthly stipend to a select group of residents as part of a privately funded 18-month experiment to assess how people use the money.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all just started getting big, fat checks from the government every month?

Why didn’t somebody think about this before?

Of course the truth is that we simply cannot afford to do that. State and local government debt levels have surged to record highs, and the federal government is now 21 trillion dollars in debt. We are on a path that leads to national suicide, and we desperately need to start living within our means.

We have been consuming far more wealth than we have been producing for a very long time, but we have been doing it for so long that many of us now think that this is “normal”. Meanwhile, our long-term debt problems continue to escalate and our once thriving middle class continues to shrink.

If we continue to do the same things, we will continue to get the same results, and right now we are in the process of absolutely destroying the greatest economic machine that the world has ever seen.

Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Hordes Of Anti-Trump Democrats Are Lining Up To Run For Congress In 2018

If Republicans don’t wake up, there is a very real possibility that we could lose control of the House of Representatives in 2018.  And if that happens, Donald Trump’s agenda will be dead in the water because the Democrats will use their majority to block everything.  Trump’s surprise election victory last November was perhaps the single most galvanizing moment for grassroots Democrats in this generation.  Just as the election of Barack Obama gave rise to the Tea Party movement, we are now seeing a tremendous amount of energy among liberals all over the nation.  If Republicans cannot match this energy, we are going to be in for quite a shock in November 2018.

There have been times in the past when it has been difficult for the Democrats to find viable candidates to challenge Republican incumbents in the House, but that is definitely not the case this time around.  For example, just check out what has already been happening in California

Eight challengers have lined up to take on Central Valley Republican Jeff Denham. An equal number have jumped into the fray against embattled San Diego-area Rep. Duncan Hunter, the focus of a Justice Department criminal investigation regarding his alleged use of campaign funds to pay for family expenses.

Controversial Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Huntington Beach, recently in the headlines for his own dealings with Russia, has seven Democrats contesting his reelection. Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale has six.

And that same Politico article goes on to describe how similar things are happening all over the nation.

One of the big reasons why so many Democrats are stepping forward is because they smell blood.  During the first mid-term election of a new presidency, the opposing party almost always picks up seats in the House.  In fact, Democratic strategist Garry South says the average number of seats picked up during such elections is 23

Democratic strategist Garry South, who advised presidential campaigns for Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, said the enthusiasm is especially revved-up because “Democrats need only 24 seats nationally to flip to get control of the House’’ — and more than a quarter of those may be in California.

History is on their side, he argues: Over the past 20 cycles in the first term of a presidency, Republican or Democratic, “the average number flipped has been 23 seats.”

Could you imagine the gridlock in D.C. if the Democrats are able to pull this off?

Donald Trump would essentially just be killing time until 2020 because he would be able to get absolutely nothing through Congress.

And that is why it is so frustrating that the Republicans are squandering the opportunity that they have been given right now.  The American people gave them control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, and they can’t seem to get anything accomplished.

This is a once in a generation opportunity to completely reshape the federal government, and the Republicans are falling flat on their faces.  And of course the biggest reason why the Republicans can’t get anything done is because of all the RINOs (Republicans in name only) that are holding up Trump’s agenda.

One of my slogans is “Every RINO needs to go”, and I am encouraging good men and women to step forward all over the nation to challenge the Republican incumbents that have been betraying conservative values over and over again.

But so far Democrats are having a much easier time getting people to run than we are.

If good men and women don’t step forward, we are going to end up with candidates such as Kid Rock and Caitlyn Jenner

Olympic gold medalist and transgender activist Caitlyn Jenner is the latest celebrity to reveal she has considered launching a run for Senate, telling radio host John Catsimatidis she is in the process of determining her future in activism and politics.

“I have considered it. I like the political side of it,” Jenner, who is a Republican, told Catsimatidis on AM 970 in New York.

Is that what you want?

In my brand new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters”, I discuss why I decided to run for Congress.  If you would have asked me in April if I would ever run for public office I probably would have laughed at you, but in May my life turned totally upside down when I was moved in a completely unexpected direction.

I believe that 2018 is going to be the most important mid-term election in modern American history.

We can seize this opportunity and send hundreds of candidates that love liberty and freedom to Washington and to state legislatures all over the nation, or we can apathetically sit back and watch the control freaks take even more control of things.

There has never been a more important time to get involved, and I hope that you will join me in trying to make a difference.

Michael Snyder is a Republican candidate for Congress in Idaho’s First Congressional District, and you can learn how you can get involved in the campaign on his official website. His new book entitled “Living A Life That Really Matters” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.

The Republicans In Congress Have Betrayed Us Again

I guess by now we should be accustomed to politicians lying to us.  For years, Republicans have been promising to repeal Obamacare if we would just give them control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  We did that, and now they are breaking that promise.  Because even if “Obamacare 2.0” miraculously gets through the Senate, most of the essential elements of Obamacare will survive.  If you look at the latest Senate bill, most of the Obamacare subsidies are still in there, many of the Obamacare taxes are still in there, and most of the Obamacare regulations are still in there.  On top of everything else, the bill would create an absolutely massive health insurance company bailout superfund, and that is something that the Democrats never even dared to do.  The bill being pushed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wouldn’t actually fix much of anything, and it certainly cannot be called a “repeal” of Obamacare.

I have said this before, and I will say it again.  The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through Congress and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016.  Obama vetoed that bill, but now the Republicans should take that exact same bill and get it to Donald Trump’s desk.

Of course repealing Obamacare won’t fix our deeply broken health care system.  But it would be a giant step in the right direction.

So why won’t the Republican do it?

Instead, they are trying to “fix” Obamacare, and that is about as futile as trying to “fix” a steaming pile of garbage.

In a recent editorial, Rand Paul explained why he cannot support this bill

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.

In fact, the Senate GOP bill codifies and likely expands many aspects of Obamacare.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill codifies a federal entitlement to insurance. With the Senate GOP bill, Republicans, for the first time, will signal that they favor a key aspect of Obamacare – federal taxpayer funding of private insurance purchases.

The bill will transfer billions of dollars to people who will then transfer billions of dollars to insurance companies. What a great business model – encourage the federal government to use taxpayer money to buy a private company’s product. Great business model, that is, if you are Big Insurance. Remarkable.

The Senate Obamacare-lite bill does what the Democrats forgot to do – appropriate billions for Obamacare’s cost-sharing reductions, aka subsidies. Really? Republicans are going to fund Obamacare subsidies that the Democrats forgot to fund?

Since it looked like the first version of the bill was destined to fail, Mitch McConnell released a new version of the bill today which includes even more government spending and interference

Seeking to quell a revolt from more than one-fifth of his conference, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell agreed to forego two significant tax cuts for the wealthy and instead pour hundreds of billions of dollars back into the proposal he released two weeks ago. There’s now $45 billion to combat opioid addiction and even more funding to help mitigate higher insurance costs for low-income people and to stabilize the individual markets. An additional $70 billion would go to states to to help drive down premiums, on top of $112 billion that was in the original proposal. McConnell’s target was senators toward the center of the Republican ranks, who represented the largest bloc of opposition to his first legislative draft.

This version is almost certainly destined to fail as well, because Rand Paul and Susan Collins have already come out against it, and McConnell can only afford to lose one more vote.

If a Republican bill cannot get through the Senate, McConnell is already talking about a bipartisan effort that would involve cooperation with the Democrats.  And of course the Democrats will want to keep as much of Obamacare as they possibly can.

So at the end of the day it looks like we are going to end up with either “Obamacare”, “Obamacare 2.0” or “a new and improved version of Obamacare”.

Did we really spend all of that time, effort and energy getting Republicans elected for this?

Time after time these professional politicians use labels such as “Republican”, “conservative” and “Pro-Life” to get elected, but then once they get into office they betray our values over and over again.

When are we going to start electing real conservatives instead of placeholders?  When the Democrats get power, they aggressively move their agenda forward, but when Republicans get power nothing too significant ever seems to change.

If I get the chance to go to Washington, I plan to be a wrecking ball.  Party leaders like Mitch McConnell won’t like that very much, but if we can get enough good people elected in 2018 the Republicans will have entirely new leadership soon enough.

Health care is an issue that deeply affects all of us.  So many middle class families have seen their health insurance premiums go up by hundreds of dollars a month, and that can be absolutely crippling for a family budget.  At one point a health insurance company tried to double what I was paying per month, and so I can definitely relate to what so many others are going through.

We have got to dramatically lower health care costs.  That means that we need substantial legal reform so that the cost of malpractice insurance goes way down, we need to remove as many “paper pushers” from the system as possible, and we need to restore as much competition to the system on every level as possible.

The health care system should be built around doctors and patients.  There is way, way too much bureaucracy in the system right now, and lots of people that are never directly involved in providing health care are becoming exceedingly wealthy as a result.

Ronald Reagan once famously said that “government is the problem”, and this is another case where that phrase rings so true.

If you take the shackles off, the free market system actually works extremely well, but these days both parties seem to want to constantly drag us toward socialism.

If we do nothing, they will win, and that is why we need to stand up and fight for what we believe while we still can.

Dying Middle Class: The Number Of Americans That Can’t Afford Their Own Homes Has More Than Doubled

Have you lost your spot in the middle class yet? For years I have been documenting all of the numbers that show that the middle class in America has been steadily shrinking, and we just got another one. According to a report that was produced by researchers at Harvard University, the number of Americans that spend more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing has more than doubled. In 2001, nearly 16 million Americans couldn’t afford the homes that they were currently living in, but by 2015 that figure had jumped to 38 million.

When I write about “economic collapse”, I am writing about a process that has been unfolding for decades in this country. Back in the early 1970s, well over 60 percent of all Americans were considered to be “middle class”, but now that number has fallen below 50 percent. Never before in our history has the middle class been a minority of the population, but that is where we are at now, and the middle class continues to get even smaller with each passing day.

So these new numbers saddened me, but they didn’t exactly surprise me. The following comes from NBC News

Over 38 million American households can’t afford their housing, an increase of 146 percent in the past 16 years, according to a recent Harvard housing report.

Under federal guidelines, households that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs are considered “cost burdened” and will have difficulty affording basic necessities like food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

But the number of Americans struggling with their housing costs has risen from almost 16 million in 2001 to 38 million in 2015, according to the Census data crunched in the report. That’s more than double.

Sometimes people try to convince me that the economy is doing “well”, but when I ask them how they are doing personally the news is almost always dreary. I know so many people that are working for close to minimum wage that used to be solidly in the middle class.

One of the biggest reasons why the middle class is shrinking is because paychecks are staying about the same while the cost of living continues to rise steadily. Of course one of the biggest factors in the rise of the cost of living is health insurance.

There are many people out there that have seen their health insurance premiums double since Obamacare went into effect. And one health insurance company actually tried to do this to me and my family too, and so at that time I immediately switched carriers.

But even though virtually every single Republican in Congress campaigned on repealing Obamacare, it doesn’t look like it is going to happen. In fact, on Sunday Senator John McCain told Face the Nation that the effort to repeal Obamacare is “probably going to be dead”

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday the Republican bill to repeal and replace Obamacare is “probably going to be dead.”

“My view is that it’s probably going to be dead,” he said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Support for the bill has been eroding over the July 4th recess, and McCain said he believes Republicans should work with Democrats to craft health care legislation.

As a voter, this greatly frustrates me. The Republicans got a bill to repeal Obamacare through the House and through the Senate and on to Barack Obama’s desk in early 2016. So why can’t they get that exact same bill to Donald Trump’s desk now?

We worked really hard to give the Republicans control of the White House, the Senate and the House, and now they are stabbing us in the back once again.

This is just one example of why I intend to be a “wrecking ball” if I get the chance to go to Washington.

We have got to lower health care costs on the middle class. There is no other option. Millions of families all over the country are being absolutely suffocated by rising health insurance premiums. Sometimes I get so frustrated with these RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) that I want to scream.

So many families are living on the edge right now. Various surveys have discovered that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire nation is living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time, and one study found that 69 percent of all Americans do not have an adequate emergency fund.

But when you are living on the edge, there is always a danger that you could go over.

Every month, more Americans fall out of the middle class and into poverty. Even during this so-called “economic recovery”, we are seeing alarming spikes in poverty all over the nation. For example, the number of homeless people living on the street in New York City has increased by 39 percent over the past year…

Street homelessness in New York increased by 39 percent in 2017, according to the latest annual survey by the Department of Homeless Services.

There were 3,892 homeless and unsheltered people on the night of February 6, 2017, up from 2,794 people at the same time last year, said the report, which is conducted on one night of the year. This is the highest increase since 2005, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor.

And bankruptcies continue to rise as well. Consumer bankruptcies were up once again last month, and commercial bankruptcies continue their very disturbing climb

Commercial Chapter 11 bankruptcies – an effort to restructure the business, rather than liquidating it – jumped 16% year-over-year in June to 581 filings across the US. Total commercial bankruptcies of all types, by large corporations to tiny sole proprietorships, rose 2% year-over-year to 3,385 filings, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. This was up 39% from June 2015 and up 18% from June 2014.

Since the end of the last recession, the middle class has continued to get smaller and smaller in this country, and now it appears that another economic downturn is upon us.

Are we just going to stand aside and do nothing as the middle class in America dies?

The Democrats don’t seem to care.

The Republicans don’t seem to care.

If we continue to do the same things that we have been doing, we are going to continue to get the same results.

In other words, unless we start doing things differently the middle class in America is going to continue to be systematically eviscerated.

Wake up America. The middle class is dying and if we want to save it we have to take action now.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

5 Trends That Are Destroying The Middle Class In America

The middle class in America has been shrinking for decades, and our leaders seem powerless to do anything about it.  Two years ago, the middle class became a minority in this country for the first time ever.  In other words, the middle class now accounts for less than 50 percent of the population.  But back in the early 1970s, the middle class made up more than 60 percent of the population.  I have often compared being in the middle class to playing a really bizarre game of musical chairs.  When the music stops playing each month, more chairs are being pulled out of the middle class, and most of us are just hoping that we will still have a chair for the next go around.

Earlier today, I came across a USA Today article that discussed some of the factors that are slowly but surely eviscerating the middle class.  I am going to share four of those factors with you, and at the end I am going to add one extra one.  First of all, the article pointed to a decline in manufacturing and the rise of “service jobs” as one of the key trends that is changing the nature of work in America…

‘Once dominant industries, like manufacturing — which paid well even without a college degree — have been overtaken by service sector jobs, most of which are low-paying, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.’

In the old days, even if you didn’t have any higher education you could support a middle class family by working in manufacturing.  We were the greatest manufacturing society that the world had ever seen, and Detroit had the highest per capita income in the entire country.  But after decades of sending manufacturing jobs overseas, manufacturing’s share of the U.S. economy is at an all-time low and formerly great manufacturing cities such as Detroit have become rotting, decaying hellholes.

Secondly, the USA Today article pointed to the rising cost of a college education…

‘The cost of getting a college degree is up more than 1,000% since 1978, according to Bloomberg.’

This is a particular pet peeve of mine, because I am still paying off my old law school loans.  We encourage our students to get as much education as possible and to not worry about all the debt, but then millions of them find themselves financially crippled and without good jobs once they graduate.  This makes it extremely difficult for a lot of our young people to enter the middle class.

Thirdly, the USA Today article brought up stagnant wages and the rising cost of living…

‘Decades of stagnant wages mean both parents must often work to make ends meet, creating a need for child care and elder care that didn’t exist in 1950, for example, when two-thirds of women were full-time “homemakers” aka caregivers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.’

Once upon a time, a single income could easily provide for a large middle class family in America.  But today so many families have both parents working, and yet many of them still find it very difficult to pay the bills each month.  In fact, surveys have found that somewhere around two-thirds of the entire country is living paycheck to paycheck.

Fourthly, the USA Today article mentioned “the gig economy” as a major issue…

‘The gig economy (Uber, Airbnb) has exploded, giving workers more control and flexibility, but fewer benefits or legal protections.’

Independent work and contract work have become major societal trends, and this isn’t going away any time soon.  These types of jobs do not typically come with health insurance, retirement benefits, etc. and so this is something that our nation is going to have to wrestle with.

Fifthly, I would like to throw in the decline of small business and entrepreneurship in America.  Working for yourself or starting a business have always been ways to lift yourself up into the middle class in this country, but today it is harder than ever to become independent.  The government is absolutely killing small businesses and entrepreneurs with rules, regulations, red tape and high taxes, and little relief appears to be coming our way any time soon.

At this point, the percentage of Americans that are self-employed is hovering near the all-time record low, and if we hope to have a thriving middle class ever again we need to get this fixed.

We also need to train our young people for the jobs of the 21st century.  At one time we had one of the best education systems on the entire planet, but today our system of public education has become a global joke.

And I am not exaggerating one bit when I say that.

To give you an idea of how badly the quality of our workforce has declined, I want to share with you something that the owner of a small manufacturing company posted in an Internet discussion forum

I own a small manufacturing company. Most of the assembly work is done at a bench, with hand tools. The work is not difficult, but quality and consistency is paramount.

We are entering into our busiest time of year, and steady growth combined with losing one of our senior bench techs has caused me to run some ads (after spreading the word around to friends and associates).

I have been involved in the manufacturing business for about 30 years, and have seen thousands of resumes.

The last couple weeks I have been reviewing a couple dozen resumes a day. What I am seeing now, is stunning and disappointing. When did people stop learning how to compose a sentence? When did they decide that a resume composed of two sentences is somehow complete? The poor level of spelling, grammar, and frankly effort has me perplexed and perpetually face-palming.

So far, I have two resumes that were not immediately round-filed. Just two.

If this is the current state of our potential work force, we are in trouble.

That really resonated with me, because I have heard pretty much the same thing from so many business owners over the years.

Decades of following the “progressive agenda”, and I am talking about both Democrats and Republicans, has been absolutely disastrous for our society.

We desperately need a complete and total cultural revolution, and that means returning to the values and the principles that this nation was founded upon.

If we continue on the same path that we are currently on, the middle class will continue to deteriorate, and our nation as a whole will continue to decline.

We can do better, and we must do better.

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount. As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time. Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years. Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent. During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind.

Today, there are approximately 205 million working age Americans, and close to half of them have no financial cushion whatsoever. In fact, a new survey conducted by the Federal Reserve has found that 44 percent of Americans do not even have enough money “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”

Nearly eight years into an economic recovery, nearly half of Americans didn’t have enough cash available to cover a $400 emergency. Specifically, the survey found that, in line with what the Fed had disclosed in previous years, 44% of respondents said they wouldn’t be able to cover an unexpected $400 expense like a car repair or medical bill, or would have to borrow money or sell something to meet it.

Not only that, the same survey discovered that 23 percent of U.S. adults will not be able to pay their bills this month

Just as concerning were other findings from the study: just under one-fourth of adults, or 23%, are not able to pay all of their current month’s bills in full while 25% reported skipping medical treatments due to cost in the prior year. Additionally, 28% of adults who haven’t retired yet reported to being grossly unprepared, indicating they had no retirement savings or pension whatsoever.

But just because you can pay your bills does not mean that you are doing well. Tens of millions of Americans barely scrape by from paycheck to paycheck each and every month.

In fact, a survey by CareerBuilder discovered that 75 percent of all Americans live paycheck to paycheck at least some of the time…

Three-quarters of Americans (75 percent) are living paycheck-to-paycheck to make ends meet, according to a survey from CareerBuilder. Thirty-eight percent of employees said they sometimes live paycheck-to-paycheck, 15 percent said they usually do and 23 percent said they always do. While making ends meet is a struggle for many post-recession, those with minimum wage jobs continue to be hit the hardest. Of workers who currently have a minimum wage job or have held one in the past, 66 percent said they couldn’t make ends meet and 50 percent said they had to work more than one job to make it work.

So please don’t be fooled into thinking that the U.S. economy is doing well because the stock market has been hitting new record highs.

The stock market was soaring just before the financial crisis of 2008 too, and we remember how that turned out.

The truth is that the long-term trends that have been eating away at the foundations of the U.S. economy continue to accelerate, and the real economy is in substantially worse shape this year than it was last year.

Just about everywhere you look, businesses are struggling and stores are shutting down. Yes, there are a few wealthy enclaves where everything seems wonderful for the moment, but for most of the country it seems like the last recession never ended.

In a desperate attempt to stay afloat, a lot of families have been turning to debt to make ends meet. U.S. household debt has just hit a brand new all-time record high of 12.7 trillion dollars, but we are starting to see an alarming rise in auto loan defaults and consumer bankruptcies. This is precisely what we would expect to see if the U.S. economy was moving into another major recession.

In fact, we are seeing all sorts of signs that point to a major economic slowdown right now. Just check out the following from Wolf Richter’s latest article

Over the past five decades, each time commercial and industrial loan balances at US banks shrank or stalled as companies cut back or as banks tightened their lending standards in reaction to the economy they found themselves in, a recession was either already in progress or would start soon. There has been no exception since the 1960s. Last time this happened was during the Financial Crisis.

Now it’s happening again – with a 1990/91 recession twist.

Commercial and industrial loans outstanding fell to $2.095 trillion on May 10, according to the Fed’s Board of Governors weekly report on Friday. That’s down 4.5% from the peak on November 16, 2016. It’s below the level of outstanding C&I loans on October 19. And it marks the 30th week in a row of no growth in C&I loans.

Perhaps we will be very fortunate and break this pattern that has held up all the way back to the 1960s.

But I wouldn’t count on it. Here is what Zero Hedge has to say about this alarming contraction in commercial and industrial loans…

Here’s the bottom line: unless there is a sharp rebound in loan growth in the next 3-6 months – whether due to greater demand or easier supply – this most accurate of leading economic indicators guarantees that a recession is now inevitable.

We are way overdue for a recession, the hard economic numbers are screaming that one is coming, and the financial markets are absolutely primed for a major crash.

As Americans, we tend to have such short memories. Every time a new financial bubble starts forming, a lot of people out there start behaving as if it can last indefinitely.

But of course no financial bubble is going to last forever. They all burst eventually, and now the biggest one in U.S. history is about to end in spectacular fashion.

Trump will get a lot of the blame since he is the current occupant of the White House, but the truth is that the conditions for the next crisis have been building up for many years, and the horrors that the U.S. economy is heading for were entirely predictable.

(Originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog)

Goodbye Middle Class: The Rate Of Homeownership In The United States Has Hit The Lowest Level Ever

Abandoned House - Public Domain

The percentage of Americans that own a home has fallen to the lowest level ever recorded. During the second quarter of 2016, the non-seasonally adjusted homeownership rate fell to just 62.9 percent, which was exactly where it was at when the U.S. Census began publishing this measurement back in 1965. This is not what a “recovery” looks like. All throughout the Obama years, the percentage of Americans that own a home has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller. The reason for this, of course, is that the middle class in America is dying. Last year, we learned that middle class Americans now make up a minority of the population for the first time ever. In order to have a high rate of homeownership, you need a thriving middle class, and you can’t have a thriving middle class without good paying middle class jobs. This is why I write about the evisceration of the middle class so extensively, because the U.S. economy is systematically being hollowed out and most Americans don’t understand what is happening.

Traditionally, owning a home has been a sign that you have arrived as a member of the middle class, but under Barack Obama the percentage of Americans that own a home has fallen every single year. In the past, we have talked about how it had fallen to the lowest level in decades, but now it has officially fallen to the lowest level ever. The following comes from CNBC

After rising just over a decade ago to its highest level ever, the nation’s homeownership rate fell to match its all-time low and could drop even further in the months to come.

In the second quarter of this year, the rate fell to 62.9 percent, not seasonally adjusted, which is the same as it was in 1965, when the U.S. Census started tracking the metric. During the epic housing boom in the mid-2000s, the rate soared as high as 69.2 percent. That was when politicians touted the so-called “ownership society.”

So why is this happening?

Well, according to Wolf Richter analysts are blaming many factors…

  • Rising home prices in an economy of stagnant wages (for the lower 80%) have pushed entry-level homes out of reach for many people.
  • Lower priced homes in many urban areas entail a huge and costly ($ and time) commute every day. And even then, these homes may be too much of stretch for big parts of the population in expensive urban areas.
  • First time buyers are having trouble saving for a down payment since they spend their last available dime to meet soaring rents.
  • Millennials have been blamed. They always get blamed for everything. They saw their parents deal with the American Dream as it turned into the American Nightmare, and they learned their lesson early in life.
  • The super-low interest rate environment hasn’t made homes more affordable because home prices, in response to super-low interest rates, have soared, and in the end, mortgage payments are higher than they were before.
  • Higher home prices entail other costs that are higher, including taxes, brokerage fees, and insurance.

Certainly all of those points are legitimate, but the truth is that what we are facing is much broader than all of that. The middle class in the United States has been dying for decades, and in recent years the long-term trends that have been slowly eating away at the middle class like cancer have accelerated significantly. Just consider these numbers…

-In America today, nobody has a job in one out of every five families.

-At this moment, 102 million working age Americans do not have a job.

-According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of American workers currently make less than $30,000 a year.

-In 1970, the middle class brought home approximately 62 percent of all income. Today, that number has plunged to just 43 percent.

-The Federal Reserve says that 47 percent of Americans could not pay an unexpected $400 emergency room bill without borrowing the money from somewhere or selling something.

-One recent survey discovered that 62 percent of all Americans have less than $1,000 in savings.

-If you currently have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.

-According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. If you can believe it, that number has doubled since 1996.

-Back in 2007, approximately one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.

-Things continue to get worse for the middle class as we head into the second half of 2016. Gallup’s U.S. economic confidence index just hit the lowest level so far this year.

I could keep quoting numbers at you all day, but hopefully you are getting the picture.

The middle class in America just keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller, and our politicians just keep on conducting business as usual. They don’t seem to care that they are strangling the life out of what was once the largest and most thriving middle class in the history of the planet.

And things could soon get much worse for the middle class as this new global economic crisis accelerates. In fact, highly respected economist Peter Schiff believes that a major downturn in the U.S. is imminent

HERE IS THE REALITY: The world has caught on, and the gig is up. Under Obama’s stewardship, the U.S. national debt has gone from $10 Trillion, to what will be $20 Trillion by the time he leaves office, with nothing more than 100 MILLION Americans out of work, and 50 MILLION in poverty and on food stamps. That’s what cheap money bought for us. It was all “borrowed” cheap money too, making it infinitely worse, and the world is tired of lending.

There are so many families out there that are really struggling right now, and more than two-thirds of all Americans believe that the country is on the wrong track.

I would like to tell you that happy days are here again and that the best times for America are just around the corner, but unlike the politicians at the Republican and Democratic national conventions, I am not going to lie to you.

Very rough times are coming, and things are going to get much harder for the middle class.

Plan accordingly, and get prepared while you still can.

*About the author: Michael Snyder is the founder and publisher of The Economic Collapse Blog and End Of The American Dream. Michael’s controversial new book about Bible prophecy entitled “The Rapture Verdict” is available in paperback and for the Kindle on Amazon.com.*

One-Third Of All Americans Don’t Make Enough Money To Even Cover The Basic Necessities

Sad Child - Public Domain

Do you remember the days when it seemed like almost everyone in America was middle class? Unfortunately, those days are long gone and the grinding down of the middle class in the United States appears to be accelerating. According to a brand new study that was just released by Pew Charitable Trusts, household spending increased by 14 percent between 2004 and 2014, but median household income decreased by 13 percent during that same time period. Both of those figures were adjusted for inflation. What this means is that the cost of living has steadily gone up, but our incomes have gone down. In fact, as you will see below approximately one-third of all Americans don’t even make enough money to pay for the basic necessities at this point. The middle class is being squeezed like never before, and very few of our leaders seem to care.

It isn’t because we are buying a lot of luxuries that our expenses are going up. According to Pew, U.S. families are now spending a larger percentage of their budgets on the basics such as housing, food, health care and transportation than they were a decade ago. In fact, it has gotten to the point where approximately one-third of all Americans don’t bring home enough money to cover the core necessities. The following comes from Zero Hedge

However, according to a striking new Pew study while household spending has returned to pre-recession levels (the average household spent $36,800 in 2014) incomes have not.

Specifically, while the median income had fallen by 13% from 2004 levels over the next decade, expenditures had increased by nearly 14%. But nobody was more impacted than the one-third of households which the study defines as “low-income.” Pew finds that while all households had less slack in their budgets in 2014 than in 2004, lower-income households went into the red by over $2,300.

In other words, approximately one third of American households were no longer able to cover the core necessities – food, housing and transportation – with average income.

A decade ago, U.S. households in the bottom third of the income scale still had an average of $1,500 left over each year after paying for the basic necessities of life.

But today, those same households are $2,300 in the red after paying for the basic necessities of life. Perhaps this is one reason why credit card debt in this country has hit a new all-time high.

Families in the middle third of the income scale are being squeezed as well. A decade ago those households had $17,000 left over each year after paying for the basic necessities, but now that number has fallen to just $6,000.

And of course most of that “discretionary income” is rapidly spent on other things such as entertainment. As a result, most American families find themselves living on the financial edge

Previous Pew research found that one in three American families overall have no savings. And even among households with incomes of over $100,000, 1 in 10 say they are in that situation.

At this point, the typical U.S. household “cannot replace even one month of income with liquid savings”.

So what is going to happen when things get really tough in this country?

What are people going to fall back on?

And already the job losses are starting. The energy industry has lost more than 100,000 good paying middle class jobs since the start of last year, and just today we learned that Boeing could be laying off as many as 8,000 workers. The following comes from the Seattle Times

Since Boeing Commercial Airplanes CEO Ray Conner announced a drive to cut the workforce six weeks ago, his team has taken steps expected to eliminate 4,000 jobs by June — and that may be only halfway towards the total cuts this year.

An internal Boeing document obtained by the Seattle Times reveals that at least one company unit is targeting a 10 percent workforce reduction overall.

And people with knowledge of what’s planned say that’s roughly the percentage of jobs expected to be cut statewide. That would translate to as many as 8,000 jobs being eliminated.

Sadly, this is probably just the very small tip of a very large iceberg.

Just look at the following chart from Zero Hedge. Employment levels almost always follow changes in corporate profits, and right now corporate profits are falling dramatically…

Employment Year Over Year - Zero Hedge

America is heading for much harder times, and this is something that I discuss in my new book. Just like last time around, large numbers of workers with little to no cushion to fall back on are going to find themselves in desperate situations when they lose their jobs. Millions of Americans will go from living comfortable middle class lifestyles to facing an existence of poverty and despair very, very rapidly.

All of this is just the acceleration of a trend that has been playing out over the past several decades. The middle class in America is being systematically destroyed, and I want to share with you once again some key numbers that prove this point that come from one of my previous articles

#1 For the first time ever recorded, middle class Americans make up a minority of the population. But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.

#2 According to the Pew Research Center, the median income of middle class households declined by 4 percent from 2000 to 2014.

#3 The Pew Research Center has also found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by an astounding 28 percent between 2001 and 2013.

#4 In 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income. Today, that number has plummeted to just 43 percent.

#5 There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.

#6 According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#7 For the poorest 20 percent of all Americans, median household wealth declined from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.

#8 A recent nationwide survey discovered that 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.

#9 At this point, the U.S. only ranks 19th in the world when it comes to median wealth per adult.

#10 Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been one of the engines that has fueled the growth of the middle class in the United States, but today the level of entrepreneurship in this country is sitting at an all-time low.

#11 If you can believe it, the 20 wealthiest people in this country now have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined.

#12 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.

#13 If you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.

#14 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.

#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month, and nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.

#17 In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.

#18 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.

#19 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.

#20 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.

#21 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.

#22 The median net worth of families in the United States was $137, 955 in 2007. Today, it is just $82,756.

So is there any hope for the middle class in America?

Please feel free to share what you think by leaving a comment below…

The American Dream Is Dead, And Now Even The Mainstream Media Is Starting To Admit It

Cemetary Graveyard - Public Domain

Are you living “the American Dream”? If so, you should consider yourself to be very fortunate, because most Americans are not. In fact, as you will see below, a new survey has found that there is nowhere on the entire planet where the average wage earner is making enough money to live “the American Dream”. Once upon a time, the United States had the largest and most prosperous middle class in the history of the world, but now the middle class makes up a minority of the population, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year, and poverty is growing rapidly. The American Dream is essentially dead, and even the mainstream media is starting to figure this out.

Just today, someone sent me a U.S. News & World Report article entitled “Even Americans Can’t Afford the American Dream”. The following is an excerpt from that article

The study goes country by country, factoring in average local wages and prices to calculate the regional costs of luxuries such as midsize homes (by U.S. standards, 1,480 square feet); electricity and high-speed Internet; cars and enough money for gasoline; food for a family of four; and enough disposable income to periodically dine out and attend movies or other events.

Researchers ultimately found there isn’t a country on the map whose average wage earner could afford all of these expenses together. What’s more, average consumers in Saudi Arabia and Oman are actually closer to financing these socioeconomic goals than the average American. The average Saudi household would only need to see monthly salaries climb by about $74 to realize the American dream in their own country, while U.S. workers would need hundreds of dollars in additional income.

Isn’t that alarming?

The American Dream is out of the grasp of most people living in America, and there isn’t anywhere else on the globe where a majority of the workers are experiencing it either.

That same article also contained a few other facts that are truly sobering…

“After more than four decades of serving as the nation’s economic majority, the American middle class is now matched in number by those in the economic tiers above and below it,” the Pew report said. “Since 1971, each decade has ended with a smaller share of adults living in middle-income households than at the beginning of the decade, and no single decade stands out as having triggered or hastened the decline in the middle.”

Another recent study from the Brookings Institution found that median wages fell in 80 percent of America’s largest metros between 2009 and 2014.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and now that collapse is accelerating.

So what is the solution?

Well, CNN is reporting that a new survey has discovered that middle class Americans feel that the federal government should do more to help them out…

Hey federal government! The middle class would like some help, too.

A majority of Americans say the feds don’t do enough to help the middle class, according to a Pew Research Center survey released Thursday. The middle class is more neglected than the poor or children, survey respondents said.

More socialism for everyone!

That will solve all of our problems, right?

Of course not. Actually, if we had a much smaller government that would probably go a long way toward fixing things. This is hard to believe, but in 2015 Americans spent more on taxes than on food, clothing and housing combined.

If the federal government would just stop taxing us into oblivion, a lot more of us would do okay all on our own.

These days, so many families are just scraping by from month to month. As the cost of living continues to move steadily upward, many Americans find themselves forced to go into debt just to cover basic expenses.

And our society actually encourages all of us to go into debt, and so we think that it is okay. But many of us end up digging financial holes that we never get out of. This is especially true for a lot of young people today. One recent survey found that 68 percent of all Americans had destroyed their credit before the age of 30.

Of course then we hear on the news that the economy is “not growing fast enough” because consumers are not spending enough money.

The experts that are telling people this don’t seem to understand that most consumers are tapped out at this point.

You can’t get blood from a rock, and as a result a lot of retailers are really hurting right now. The following list of store closures comes from my recent article about the ongoing retail apocalypse

-Wal-Mart is closing 269 stores, including 154 inside the United States.

-K-Mart is closing down more than two dozen stores over the next several months.

-J.C. Penney will be permanently shutting down 47 more stores after closing a total of 40 stores in 2015.

-Macy’s has decided that it needs to shutter 36 stores and lay off approximately 2,500 employees.

-The Gap is in the process of closing 175 stores in North America.

-Aeropostale is in the process of closing 84 stores all across America.

-Finish Line has announced that 150 stores will be shutting down over the next few years.

-Sears has shut down about 600 stores over the past year or so, but sales at the stores that remain open continue to fall precipitously.

When I was a young boy, I think that you could have said that the American Dream was still alive and well in the United States.

But after decades of exceedingly foolish decisions, things have completely changed and the middle class is dying right in front of our eyes.

If you doubt this, please see the list of statistics that I have shared below that comes from one of my previous articles

#1 This week we learned that for the first time ever recorded, middle class Americans make up a minority of the population. But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.

#2 According to the Pew Research Center, the median income of middle class households declined by 4 percent from 2000 to 2014.

#3 The Pew Research Center has also found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by an astounding 28 percent between 2001 and 2013.

#4 In 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income. Today, that number has plummeted to just 43 percent.

#5 There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.

#6 According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#7 For the poorest 20 percent of all Americans, median household wealth declined from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.

#8 A recent nationwide survey discovered that 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.

#9 At this point, the U.S. only ranks 19th in the world when it comes to median wealth per adult.

#10 Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been one of the engines that has fueled the growth of the middle class in the United States, but today the level of entrepreneurship in this country is sitting at an all-time low.

#11 If you can believe it, the 20 wealthiest people in this country now have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined.

#12 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.

#13 If you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.

#14 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.

#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month, and nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.

#17 In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps. Today, that number is one out of every five.

#18 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day. That number has doubled since 1996.

#19 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.

#20 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.

#21 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.

#22 The median net worth of families in the United States was $137, 955 in 2007. Today, it is just $82,756.

Sayonara Middle Class: 22 Stunning Pieces Of Evidence That Show The Middle Class In America Is Dying

Uncle Sam - Public Domain

Once upon a time, middle class households took home 62 percent of all income in America.  Today, that number has dropped to just 43 percent.  This is just one of the absolutely astounding statistics that you will read about in this article.  Over the years, the middle class in America has been in steady decline.  Our incomes have been going down, our net worth has been going down, the quality of our jobs has been going down, and yet the cost of living just keeps going up.  As a result of all of these factors, more Americans are living in poverty today than ever before, and dependence on the government has exploded to unprecedented levels.

But of course it doesn’t take a genius to figure any of this out.  In fact, politicians of all stripes are saying the exact same thing during this election season…

Bernie Sanders says it is in the midst of “a 40-year decline.” Jeb Bush says it is “shrinking.” Ted Cruz says it is “headed in the wrong direction.” And Hillary Clinton says the “basic bargain” that hard work could move families into the middle class “has eroded.”

Sadly, when we send these politicians to Washington D.C. they just continue on with business as usual.  No matter who resides in the White House and no matter who controls Congress, the game remains the same and the middle class just continues to suffer.  The following are 22 cold, hard pieces of evidence that show that the middle class in America is dying…

#1 This week we learned that for the first time ever recorded, middle class Americans make up a minority of the population. But back in 1971, 61 percent of all Americans lived in middle class households.

#2 According to the Pew Research Center, the median income of middle class households declined by 4 percent from 2000 to 2014.

#3 The Pew Research Center has also found that median wealth for middle class households dropped by an astounding 28 percent between 2001 and 2013.

#4 In 1970, the middle class took home approximately 62 percent of all income.  Today, that number has plummeted to just 43 percent.

#5 There are still 900,000 fewer middle class jobs in America than there were when the last recession began, but our population has gotten significantly larger since that time.

#6 According to the Social Security Administration, 51 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#7 For the poorest 20 percent of all Americans, median household wealth declined from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.

#8 A recent nationwide survey discovered that 48 percent of all U.S. adults under the age of 30 believe that “the American Dream is dead”.

#9 At this point, the U.S. only ranks 19th in the world when it comes to median wealth per adult.

#10 Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been one of the engines that has fueled the growth of the middle class in the United States, but today the level of entrepreneurship in this country is sitting at an all-time low.

#11 If you can believe it, the 20 wealthiest people in this country now have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined.

#12 The top 0.1 percent of all American families have about as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent of all American families combined.

#13 If you have no debt and you also have ten dollars in your pocket, that gives you a greater net worth than about 25 percent of all Americans.

#14 The number of Americans that are living in concentrated areas of high poverty has doubled since the year 2000.

#15 An astounding 48.8 percent of all 25-year-old Americans still live at home with their parents.

#16 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 49 percent of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month, and nearly 47 million Americans are living in poverty right now.

#17 In 2007, about one out of every eight children in America was on food stamps.  Today, that number is one out of every five.

#18 According to Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the authors of a new book entitled “$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America“, there are 1.5 million “ultrapoor” households in the United States that live on less than two dollars a day.  That number has doubled since 1996.

#19 46 million Americans use food banks each year, and lines start forming at some U.S. food banks as early as 6:30 in the morning because people want to get something before the food supplies run out.

#20 The number of homeless children in the U.S. has increased by 60 percent over the past six years.

#21 According to Poverty USA, 1.6 million American children slept in a homeless shelter or some other form of emergency housing last year.

#22 The median net worth of families in the United States was $137, 955 in 2007.  Today, it is just $82,756.

The wealth of U.S. families increased from 1983 to 2007, fell sharply since
That last number really stunned me.

According to Pew Research, the median net worth of U.S. families has fallen by more than $55,000 since 2007.

That sure doesn’t sound like an “economic recovery” to me.

I think that everyone can agree that we have a major problem on our hands.

So what is the solution?

Well, in order to have a healthy middle class, we need to have an economy that produces lots of middle class jobs and lots of thriving small businesses.  But in America today, our small businesses are being strangled out of existence by mountains of red tape and excessive taxation, and millions of middle class jobs have been shipped out of the country to other nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages.

Until we start doing things differently, we are going to continue to get the same results that we have been getting, and the middle class will just keep getting smaller and smaller and smaller.

The middle class is now a minority in this country.  How much worse do things have to get before we say that enough is enough?  Are we just going to stand on the sidelines and watch the middle class disappear entirely?

At one time, the United States had the most vibrant middle class the world had ever seen.  We were the envy of the rest of the planet, and people all over the world wanted to come here and live out “the American Dream”.

Unfortunately, “the American Dream” is now dying, and most Americans don’t seem to care.

What in the world is it going to take for people to finally wake up and start taking action?

20 Super Wealthy Individuals Have More Money Than The Poorest 152 Million Americans Combined

Wealthy - Public Domain

Do we need any more evidence before we will finally admit that the middle class in America is being systematically destroyed?  As you will see below, when you add together all of the wealth of the poorest 152 million Americans, it still falls short of the combined net worth of the 20 wealthiest Americans.  This is a list that includes Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and Mark Zuckerberg.  To many, the core of the problem is that people like Gates and Buffett are making too much money.  But I disagree.  There is nothing wrong with working hard, building a company and making lots of money.  The real problem is the fact that the bottom half of the country is steadily getting poorer.  Once upon a time, this nation had the healthiest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world, but now that middle class is dying.  If we don’t do something about this, soon we may not have much of a middle class left.

When I was growing up in the 1980s, it seemed like virtually everyone was middle class.  I didn’t know of any family that had a father that was unemployed, everyone seemed to have a house and a couple of cars, and no kid that I went to school with could have been described as “impoverished”.  Yes, life was definitely not perfect, but it seemed to me that pretty much everyone was able to maintain a decent standard of living.

Sadly, things have dramatically changed since then.  Yes, the wealthy have gotten wealthier, but at the same time the ranks of the impoverished have absolutely exploded.  At this point, 20 extremely wealthy individuals have more money than the poorest 152 million Americans combined

The richest 20 Americans, with a combined net worth of $732billion, are as wealthy as half of the U.S. population, according to a new study.

Findings showed that the country’s 20 wealthiest people, which includes Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, now own more wealth than the bottom half of the population combined or 152 million people.

The study by the Institute for Policy Studies also found that America’s wealthiest 400, with a combined net worth of $2.34 trillion, own more wealth than that of a staggering 194 million people – the bottom 61 per cent of the country combined.

At one time, nobody would have debated that the U.S. had the healthiest middle class on the entire planet.  But now we have actually fallen behind a whole bunch of other nations.  According to CNN, the United States now only ranks 19th when it comes to median wealth per adult…

Americans’ median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult — half have more, half have less. That’s only good enough for 19th place, below Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe.

“Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries,” said Edward Wolff, a New York University economics professor who studies net worth.

$44,900 per adult may sound okay, but when you look deeper into the numbers things become quite disturbing.  According to the U.S. Census Bureau, household wealth for the poorest 40 percent of all Americans dropped significantly between 2000 and 2011.  For the bottom 20 percent, median household wealth dropped from negative 905 dollars in 2000 to negative 6,029 dollars in 2011.  For the next 20 percent, median household wealth dropped from 14,309 dollars in 2000 to 7,263 dollars in 2011.  In other words, the poor have been getting poorer…

Median Household Net Worth - US Census Bureau

So what is the solution?

Well, the truth is that you can’t have a thriving middle class without lots of middle class jobs.  And unfortunately for us, our economy has been bleeding middle class jobs for a very long time.

As I pointed out just recently, if the U.S. government was actually using honest numbers, the unemployment rate in this nation would be more than 22 percent.

But even if you have a job, that does not mean that you are part of the middle class.  As the quality of our jobs has deteriorated, the ranks of the “working poor” have absolutely exploded.  In recent years, we have seen part-time and temp jobs become a much larger part of our economy, and as a result more Americans than ever are really struggling to make ends meet.

In an article that I published near the end of October, I included brand new income numbers that were just released by the Social Security Administration. To me, these numbers are absolutely staggering…

-38 percent of all American workers made less than $20,000 last year.

-51 percent of all American workers made less than $30,000 last year.

-62 percent of all American workers made less than $40,000 last year.

-71 percent of all American workers made less than $50,000 last year.

If you are extremely frugal, you might be able to support a middle class family of five on $50,000 a year.  But as you can see, 71 percent of all American workers make less than that.

Even if you have a mother and a father that are both working, that is often not enough to make ends meet.  Many Americans are working as hard as they possibly can, only to find that they still come up short at the end of the month.

And with each passing year, the middle class continues to get smaller.  It is almost as if we are playing a really bizarre game of economic musical chairs.  With each round, more chairs get removed from the circle, and all the rest of us just hope and pray that we will get to remain part of the middle class for a little while longer.

What we are doing as a nation is simply not working.  We are now seeing the consequences of shipping good paying jobs out of the country for decades, and yet our leaders continue on with business as usual.

Just look at what Barack Obama is doing.  He is working hard to promote “the Trans-Pacific Partnership“.  This insidious treaty will result in millions more good paying American jobs being lost overseas, but he doesn’t seem to care.

No matter whether it is a Democrat or a Republican in the White House, the game remains the same and the middle class continues to suffer.

When will we ever learn?

The Death Of The American Dream In 22 Numbers

Abandoned Home

We are the generation that gets to witness the end of the American Dream. The numbers that you are about to see tell a story. They tell a story of a once mighty economy that is dying. For decades, the rest of the planet has regarded the United States as “the land of opportunity” where almost anyone can be successful if they are willing to work hard. And when I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was living the American Dream. I lived on a “middle class” street and I went to a school where it seemed like almost everyone was middle class. When I was in high school, it was very rare to ever hear of a parent that was unemployed, and virtually every family that I knew had a comfortable home and more than one nice vehicle. But now that has all changed. The “American Dream” has been transformed into a very twisted game of musical chairs. With each passing year, more people are falling out of the middle class, and most of the rest of us are scrambling really hard to keep our own places. Something has gone horribly wrong, and yet Americans are very deeply divided when it comes to finding answers to our problems. We love to point fingers and argue with one another, and meanwhile things just continue to get even worse. The following are 22 numbers that are very strong evidence of the death of the American Dream…

#1 The Obama administration tells us that 8.69 million Americans are “officially unemployed” and that 92.90 million Americans are considered to be “not in the labor force”. That means that more than 101 million U.S. adults do not have a job right now.

#2 One recent survey discovered that 55 percent of Americans believe that the American Dream either never existed or that it no longer exists.

#3 Considering the fact that Obama is in the White House, it is somewhat surprising that 55 percent of all Republicans still believe in the American Dream, but only 33 percent of all Democrats do.

#4 After adjusting for inflation, median household income has fallen by nearly $5,000 since 2007.

#5 After adjusting for inflation, “the median wealth figure for middle-income families” fell from $78,000 in 1983 to $63,800 in 2013.

#6 At this point, 59 percent of Americans believe that “the American dream has become impossible for most people to achieve”.

#7 In 1967, 53 percent of Americans were considered to be “middle income”. But today, only 43 percent of Americans are.

#8 For each of the past six years, more businesses have closed in the United States than have opened. Prior to 2008, this had never happened before in all of U.S. history.

#9 According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

#10 According to one recent report, 43 million Americans currently have unpaid medical debt on their credit reports.

#11 Traditionally, owning a home has been one of the key indicators that you belong to the middle class. Unfortunately, the rate of homeownership in the U.S. has now been falling for seven years in a row.

#12 According to a survey that was conducted last year, 52 percent of all Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now.

#13 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 46 million.

#14 The number of Americans on food stamps has now exceeded the 46 million mark for 38 months in a row.

#15 Right now, more than one out of every five children in the United States is on food stamps.

#16 According to a Washington Post article published just recently, more than 50 percent of the children in U.S. public schools now come from low income homes. This is the first time that this has happened in at least 50 years.

#17 According to the Census Bureau, 65 percent of all children in the United States are living in a home that receives some form of aid from the federal government.

#18 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be “middle class”. But by 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans still considered themselves to be “middle class”.

#19 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be “lower class”. But in 2014, an astounding 49 percent of all Americans in that age range considered themselves to be “lower class”.

#20 It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers make less than $30,000 a year.

#21 According to one recent survey, 62 percent of all Americans are currently living paycheck to paycheck.

#22 According to CNN, the typical American family can only “replace 21 days of income with readily accessible funds”.

The key to the recovery of the middle class is jobs.

The truth is that without middle class jobs, it is impossible to have a middle class.

Unfortunately, more middle class jobs are being offshored, are being replaced by technology, or are being lost to a slowing economy every single day. The competition for the jobs that remain is incredibly intense. Just consider the following example

In 2012, Eric Auld, an unemployed 26-year-old with a master’s degree in English, decided to find out what was on the other side of the black hole. He created a fake job ad as an experiment:

Administrative Assistant needed for busy Midtown office. Hours are Monday through Friday, nine to five. Job duties include: filing, copying, answering phones, sending e-mails, greeting clients, scheduling appointments. Previous experience in an office setting preferred, but will train the right candidate. This is a full-time position with health benefits. Please e-mail résumé if interested. Compensation: $12-$13 per hour.

If you have ever applied for a job like that, I offer my condolences. You have better odds at the casino. Auld received 653 responses in 24 hours. 10% of the applicants had more than 10 years of experience, and 3% of them had master’s degrees. Presumably, one of them would get the job. But what does that mean? It means that all the other experienced applicants and master’s degree holders would remain unemployed. That is about 64 experienced workers and about 19 workers with master’s degrees.

So how can we get this turned around?

How can we start to increase the number of middle class jobs in America once again?

Please feel free to share your solution by posting a comment below…

(originally published on End of the American Dream)

Fed says ‘no inflation’ but middle class reality says otherwise

Inflation Public Domain

The middle class is feeling the squeeze, cutting spending on discretionary items and activities while costs on larger-ticket necessities have risen.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed consumer-spending data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics between 2007 and 2013, finding while incomes have remained flat, the cost of essentials such as housing and healthcare have increased. This translates to a 12% increase in inflation for middle-income households over this five-year period–a stark contrast to the Federal Reserve’s claims of low inflation.

Journalist Lizzie O’Leary, who is the host of Marketplace Weekend, discussed the economic challenges faced by the middle class with Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief Aaron Task. “The way the Fed measures inflation and the way that the average American experiences inflation are two very different things,” she says. “The Fed doesn’t count energy, they don’t count food, they don’t count a lot of the stuff where prices move around the most.”

(Read the rest of the story here…)

This Is About As Good As Things Are Going To Get For The Middle Class – And It’s Not That Good

Depressed - Public Domain

The U.S. economy has had six full years to bounce back since the financial collapse of 2008, and it simply has not happened. Median household income has declined substantially since then, total household wealth for middle class families is way down, the percentage of the population that is employed is still about where it was at the end of the last recession, and the number of Americans that are dependent on the government has absolutely exploded. Even those that claim that the economy is “recovering” admit that we are not even close to where we used to be economically. Many hope that someday we will eventually get back to that level, but the truth is that this is about as good as things are ever going to get for the middle class. And we should enjoy this period of relative stability while we still can, because when the next great financial crisis strikes things are going to fall apart very rapidly.

The U.S. Census Bureau has just released some brand new numbers, and they are quite sobering. For example, after accounting for inflation median household income in the United States has declined a total of 8 percent from where it was back in 2007.

That means that middle class families have significantly less purchasing power than they did just prior to the last major financial crisis.

And one research firm is projecting that it is going to take until 2019 for median household income to return to the level that we witnessed in 2007…

For everybody wondering why the economic recovery feels like a recession, here’s the answer: We’re still at least five years away from regaining everything lost during the 2007-2009 downturn.

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that real median household income — perhaps the best proxy for middle-class living standards — won’t reach the prior peak from 2007 until 2019. Since the numbers are adjusted for inflation, that means the typical family will wait 12 years until their purchasing power is as strong as it was before the recession. That would be the longest period of stagnation, by far, since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Of course that projection assumes that the economy will continue to “recover”, which is a very questionable assumption at best.

Meanwhile, total household wealth has been declining for middle class families as well.

According to the New York Times, the “typical American household” is now worth 36 percent less than it was worth a decade ago.

That is a pretty substantial drop. But you never hear our politicians (especially the Democrats) bring up numbers like that because they want us to feel good about things.

So why is all of this happening?

The biggest reason why the middle class is struggling so much is the lack of good jobs.

As the chart posted below demonstrates, the percentage of the working age population that is actually employed is still way, way below where it was prior to the last recession…

Employment Population Ratio

The “employment recovery” (the tiny little bump at the end of the chart) has been so miniscule that it is hardly even worth mentioning.

At the moment, we still have 1.4 million fewer full-time jobs than we did in 2008 even though more than 100,000 people are added to the U.S. population each month.

And a lot of the workers that have lost jobs since the start of the last recession have never been able to find a new one.

According to a brand new survey conducted by Rutgers University, more than 20 percent of all workers that have been laid off in the past five years still have not found a new job.

Meanwhile, the control freak bureaucrats that run this country continue to kill off small businesses.

In recent years we have seen large numbers of small businesses fail, and at this point the rate of small business ownership in the United States is at an all-time low.

As a result of everything that you have just read, the middle class is shrinking and dependence on the government is soaring.

Today, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity, and Americans received more than 2 trillion dollars in benefits from the federal government last year alone.

For many more statistics just like this, please see my previous article entitled “30 stats to show to anyone that does not believe the middle class is being destroyed“.

Without a doubt, things are not that good for the middle class in America these days.

Unfortunately, the next great wave of financial trouble is rapidly approaching, and once it strikes things are going to get substantially worse for the middle class.

Yes, the stock market set record high after record high this summer. But what we have observed is classic bubble behavior. So many of the exact same patterns that occurred just prior to previous stock market crashes are happening once again.

And it is interesting to note that September 22nd has marked important market peaks at various times throughout history…

For traders, September 22 is one of those days with a notorious history. UBS’s Art Cashin notes that September 22 marked various market highs in 1873, 1929, 1980, and even as recent as 2008.

Could the coming months be the beginning of the next major stock market decline?

Small-cap stocks are already starting to show signs of real weakness. In fact, the Russell 2000 just hit a “death cross” for the first time in more than 2 years

The Russell 2000 has been diverging from the broader market over the last several weeks, and now technicians point out it has flashed a bearish signal. For the first time in more than two years, the small-cap index has hit a so-called death cross.

A death cross occurs when a nearer-term 50-day moving average falls below a longer-term, 200-day moving average. Technicians argue that a death cross can be a bearish sign.

None of us knows what the market is going to do tomorrow, but a lot of the “smart money” is getting out of the market right now while the getting is good.

So where is the “smart money” putting their assets?

In a previous article, I discussed how sales of gold bars to wealthy clients is way up so far this year.

And CNBC has just reported that the ultra-wealthy “are holding mountains of cash” right now…

Billionaires are holding mountains of cash, offering the latest sign that the ultra-wealthy are nervous about putting more money into today’s markets.

According to the new Billionaire Census from Wealth-X and UBS, the world’s billionaires are holding an average of $600 million in cash each—greater than the gross domestic product of Dominica.

Why are they doing this?

Are they concerned about the potential of a market crash?

And if we do see another market crash like we witnessed back in 2008, what is that going to mean for the rest of us?

2008 certainly did not destroy our economy.

But it did cause an immense amount of damage that we have never recovered from.

Now the next wave is approaching, and most people don’t even see it coming.

(Originally posted at The Economic Collapse Blog)

This is why the middle class can’t get ahead

Middle Class American Jobs

For everybody wondering why the economic recovery feels like a recession, here’s the answer: We’re still at least five years away from regaining everything lost during the 2007-2009 downturn.

Forecasting firm IHS Global Insight predicts that real median household income — perhaps the best proxy for middle-class living standards — won’t reach the prior peak from 2007 until 2019. Since the numbers are adjusted for inflation, that means the typical family will wait 12 years until their purchasing power is as strong as it was before the recession. That would be the longest period of stagnation, by far, since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Even though the recession officially ended in 2009, median household income declined until 2012 (which suggests maybe we ought to reconsider the way we define recessions). The total decline from the peak in 2007 to the bottom in 2012 was 8.3%. For a family earning $50,000, that means they would have been getting by on $4,150 less per year.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

17 Facts That Prove That The Quality Of Jobs In America Is Going Down The Drain

Drain - Public Domain

Do you wish that you had a better job? If so, you are not alone. In fact, there are millions upon millions of Americans that get up every day and go to a job that they wish that they could afford to quit. Unfortunately, most Americans end up just desperately holding on to the jobs that they have because just about any job is valuable in this economic environment. Over the past decade, the long-term trends that are destroying jobs in America have accelerated. We have seen countless numbers of jobs shipped overseas, we have seen countless numbers of jobs replaced by technology, we have seen countless numbers of jobs taken by immigrants and we have seen countless numbers of jobs lost to the overall decline of the once great U.S. economy. Unfortunately, even though we can all see this happening, our “leaders” have failed to come up with any solutions. And since there are so many of us that are desperate for jobs these days, employers know that they don’t have to pay as much. The balance of supply and demand in the employment marketplace has radically shifted in their favor. So less workers are getting health insurance these days, less workers are getting retirement plans and once you adjust for inflation our paychecks have been getting smaller for years. Needless to say, all of this is absolutely eviscerating the middle class. The following are 17 facts that prove that the quality of jobs in America is going down the drain…

#1 A study conducted by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity is projecting that the number of college graduates that will be entering the workforce in the U.S. this decade will be nearly three times as high as the growth in the number of jobs that require at least a Bachelor’s degree.

#2 Only four of the twenty fastest growing occupations in America require a Bachelor’s degree or better.

#3 It is hard to believe, but in America today one out of every ten jobs is now filled by a temp agency.

#4 At this point, 53 percent of all wage earners in the United States make less than $30,000 a year.

#5 Approximately one out of every four part-time workers in America is living below the poverty line.

#6 One out of every three grocery store workers in the state of California is on some form of public assistance.

#7 Due to the decline in the quality of our jobs, income inequality in the United States has grown to frightening levels. The following is an excerpt from a recent Politico editorial that was written by a very wealthy individual…

The divide between the haves and have-nots is getting worse really, really fast. In 1980, the top 1 percent controlled about 8 percent of U.S. national income. The bottom 50 percent shared about 18 percent. Today the top 1 percent share about 20 percent; the bottom 50 percent, just 12 percent.

But the problem isn’t that we have inequality. Some inequality is intrinsic to any high-functioning capitalist economy. The problem is that inequality is at historically high levels and getting worse every day. Our country is rapidly becoming less a capitalist society and more a feudal society. Unless our policies change dramatically, the middle class will disappear, and we will be back to late 18th-century France. Before the revolution.

And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

#8 In 2007, the average household in the top 5 percent had 16.5 times as much wealth as the average household overall. But now the average household in the top 5 percent has 24 times as much wealth as the average household overall.

#9 In terms of median wealth per adult, the United States is now in just 19th place in the world.

#10 Our paychecks just keep getting smaller. Median household income in the United States is about 7 percent lower than it was in the year 2000 after adjusting for inflation.

#11 During the last recession, the U.S. economy lost millions of middle class jobs. But during this “recovery”, most of the jobs that have been “created” have been low paying jobs. The following is from the New York Times

During the recession, employment declined across the board, but 60 percent of the net job losses occurred in middle-income occupations with median hourly wages of $13.84 to $21.13. In contrast, these occupations have accounted for less than a quarter of the net job gains in the recovery, while low-wage occupations with median hourly wages of $7.69 to $13.83 have accounted for more than half of these gains.

#12 Due to a lack of decent jobs, half of all college graduates are still relying on their parents financially when they are two years out of school.

#13 According to one survey, 76 percent of all Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.

#14 Back in the 1980s, over 20 percent of the jobs in the U.S. were manufacturing jobs. Today, only about 9 percent of the jobs in the U.S. are manufacturing jobs.

#15 One recent study discovered that all job growth in America since the year 2000 has gone to immigrants.

#16 Another recent study found that 47 percent of unemployed Americans have “completely given up” looking for a job.

#17 The plight of unemployed workers is likely going to continue to get even worse as technology replaces more of our low paying jobs. For example, McDonald’s plans to experiment by replacing thousands of workers in Europe with touch screen terminals. Will we soon see the same thing in America?

Almost all of us know someone that is working a low quality job.

Perhaps you find yourself stuck in such a situation.

And when you are slaving away day after day, week after week for next to nothing, it can really suck the life right out of you.

Just consider what one restaurant cook named Ruben goes through on a daily basis

Ruben has worked as a cook at the Golden Corral restaurant chain for more than five years, and still only earns $8 per hour.

He has been living with his mother because he can’t afford a place on his own. But now she is about to move into an assisted living facility so he has no idea where he will go.

His job is in Maryland, so he takes the bus from D.C. every day. The last train home leaves at 11:24 p.m., so on nights when he works later than 11:30 p.m. he walks two hours home because he can’t afford a cab.

He says he’s scared to ask for a raise because he’s worried that they will let him go and find someone else willing to take the low wage.

Other Americans have found themselves dumped out of the middle class in recent years and forced to take just about anything that they can find. A recent Huffington Post piece documented the plight of a formerly middle class couple named David and Barbara Ludwig…

In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars—David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker, announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

So what about you?

Do you have a similar story to share?

What are things like in your area of the country?

Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…

Income gap widens as American factories shut down

Abandoned_factory_Elm_Street

In August 2008, factory workers David and Barbara Ludwig treated themselves to new cars—David a Dodge pickup, Barbara a sporty Mazda 3. With David making $22 an hour and Barbara $19, they could easily afford the payments.

A month later, Baldwin Hardware, a unit of Stanley Black & Decker, announced layoffs at the Reading plant where they both worked. David was unemployed for 20 months before finding a janitor job that paid $10 an hour, less than half his previous wage. Barbara hung on, but she, too, lost her shipping-dock job of 26 years as Black & Decker shifted production to Mexico. Now she cleans houses for $10 an hour while looking for something permanent.

They still have the cars. The other trappings of their middle-class lifestyle? In the rear-view mirror.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

America’s middle class: Poorer than you think

The Middle Class

Americans’ median wealth is a mere $44,900 per adult — half have more, half have less. That’s only good enough for 19th place, below Japan, Canada, Australia and much of Western Europe.

“Americans tend to think of their middle class as being the richest in the world, but it turns out, in terms of wealth, they rank fairly low among major industrialized countries,” said Edward Wolff, a New York University economics professor who studies net worth.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

Half The Country Makes Less Than $27,520 A Year And 15 Other Signs The Middle Class Is Dying

Depressed - Photo by Sander van der Wel

If you make more than $27,520 a year at your job, you are doing better than half the country is.  But you don’t have to take my word for it, you can check out the latest wage statistics from the Social Security administration right here.  But of course $27,520 a year will not allow you to live “the American Dream” in this day and age.  After taxes, that breaks down to a good bit less than $2,000 a month.  You can’t realistically pay a mortgage, make a car payment, afford health insurance and provide food, clothing and everything else your family needs for that much money.  That is one of the reasons why both parents are working in most families today.  In fact, sometimes both parents are working multiple jobs in a desperate attempt to make ends meet.  Over the years, the cost of living has risen steadily but our paychecks have not.  This has resulted in a steady erosion of the middle class.  Once upon a time, most American families could afford a nice home, a couple of cars and a nice vacation every year.  When I was growing up, it seemed like almost everyone was middle class.  But now “the American Dream” is out of reach for more Americans than ever, and the middle class is dying right in front of our eyes.

One of the things that was great about America in the post-World War II era was that we developed a large, thriving middle class.  Until recent times, it always seemed like there were plenty of good jobs for people that were willing to be responsible and work hard.  That was one of the big reasons why people wanted to come here from all over the world.  They wanted to have a chance to live “the American Dream” too.

But now the American Dream is becoming a mirage for most people.  No matter how hard they try, they just can’t seem to achieve it.

(Read the rest of the story here…)

 

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