This is nothing new, but a report on CNN Money today states once again the middle class in our country is being squeezed financially. It seems that they are paying more for almost everything, especially housing, gasoline, and health care. These costs are cause the American middle class, always the prototypical hard workers, to work even harder to maintain their status.
This latest doom and gloom was triggered by a new study done by Dēmos. This organization has created what they call a Middle Class Security Index that reports on how well middle class families are doing in three critical areas: income, housing, education, and health care. The first report on this index is not encouraging. From all angles, the middle class in America would appear to be in danger.
Most people would think that middle-income and middle class would be synonymous. That is not true. Despite qualifying for the designation “middle class” in terms of income, about 31 percent of middle-income Americans do not qualify under the Dēmos litmus test. As many as on in five current middle-class Americans are in danger of losing their middle class status due to problems in one or more of the area studied.
For example, more that half of middle class American have no net worth; their liabilities are greater than their assets. Almost 90 percent of Americans could not monthly living expenses for nine months should their income be lost. Eighty percent could not do so for even three months. (Dēmos defined essential living expenses as food, housing, clothing, transportation, health care, personal care, education, personal insurance and pensions.) On an average, middle class families have $3,500 more liabilities than assets. The health care and education portions of the study were scarcely better.
Many of the jobs that once supported the middle class are gone, often sent overseas to economies with lower labor costs. The American peer pressure to consume, consume, consume is putting pressure on this group is well. Middle class Americans are being asked to earn less and to spend more. Most are responding by doing just that and, as a result, are living paycheck to paycheck.
Much of the blame for these issues must be placed at the feel of the greedy, ruthless corporations whose only desire is money, and the American politicians that the corporations have purchased, lock stock and barrel, with campaign contributions and other more direct and illegal methods. Between them, these two groups have gutted the middle class, along with the rest of America.