Middle Class, Economically Insecure

The study, conducted by William R. Emmons and Bryan J. Noeth, found that one reason many Americans viewed themselves as struggling was that their real incomes had not advanced significantly beyond their parents’ even when they reached higher educational levels, while those who matched their parents’ achievements were actually worse off.

The typical American family makes slightly less than a typical family did 15 years ago. And while many goods have become cheaper or better, the price of three of the biggest middle-class expenditures — housing, college and health care — have gone up much faster than the rate of inflation.among most Americans in the four decades between 1969 and 2011. At some point in their working lives, a full 70 percent earned enough to put them in the top fifth of earners, and as many as 30 percent reached the equivalent of $200,000 in 2009 dollars, or roughly the top 4 percent. most people earning over $250,000 — the top 5 percent of wage earners — identify as middle class.

Similarly, nearly 80 percent at least temporarily plunged into a red zone, where their income dropped near or below the poverty line, or they were compelled to gain access to a social safety net program like

food stamps or collect unemployment insurance. More than half of Americans ages 25 to 60 will experience at least one year hovering around the poverty line.

via Middle Class, but Feeling Economically Insecure – NYTimes.com.

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