28 Signs That The Middle Class Is Heading Towards Extinction

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of The Economic Collapse blog,

The death of the middle class in America has become so painfully obvious that now even the New York Times is doing stories about it.  Millions of middle class jobs have disappeared, incomes are steadily decreasing, the rate of homeownership has declined for eight years in a row and U.S. consumers have accumulated record-setting levels of debt.  Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class", and unfortunately the percentage of Americans that are able to take care of themselves without government assistance continues to decline.  In fact, the percentage of Americans that are receiving government assistance is now at an all-time record high.  This is not a good thing.  Sadly, the number of people on food stamps has increased by nearly 50 percent while Barack Obama has been in the White House, and at this point nearly half the entire country gets money from the government each month.  Anyone that tries to tell you that the middle class is going to be "okay" simply has no idea what they are talking about.  The following are 28 signs that the middle class is heading toward extinction...

#1 You don't have to ask major U.S. corporations if the middle class is dying.  This fact is showing up plain as day in their sales numbers.  The following is from a recent New York Times article entitled "The Middle Class Is Steadily Eroding. Just Ask the Business World"...

In Manhattan, the upscale clothing retailer Barneys will replace the bankrupt discounter Loehmann’s, whose Chelsea store closes in a few weeks. Across the country, Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants are struggling, while fine-dining chains like Capital Grille are thriving. And at General Electric, the increase in demand for high-end dishwashers and refrigerators dwarfs sales growth of mass-market models.


As politicians and pundits in Washington continue to spar over whether economic inequality is in fact deepening, in corporate America there really is no debate at all. The post-recession reality is that the customer base for businesses that appeal to the middle class is shrinking as the top tier pulls even further away.

#2 Some of the largest retailers in the United States that once thrived by serving the middle class are now steadily dying.  Sears and J.C. Penney are both on the verge of bankruptcy, and now we have learned that Radio Shack may be shutting down another 500 stores this year.

#3 Real disposable income in the United States just experienced the largest year over year drop that we have seen since 1974.

#4 Median household income in the United States has fallen for five years in a row.

#5 The rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row.

#6 In 2008, 53 percent of all Americans considered themselves to be "middle class".  In 2014, only 44 percent of all Americans consider themselves to be "middle class".

#7 In 2008, 25 percent of all Americans in the 18 to 29-year-old age bracket considered themselves to be "lower class".  In 2014, an astounding 49 percent of them do.

#8 Incredibly, 56 percent of all Americans now have "subprime credit".

#9 Total consumer credit has risen by a whopping 22 percent over the past three years.

#10 The average credit card debt in the United States is $15,279.

#11 The average student loan debt in the United States is $32,250.

#12 The average mortgage debt in the United States is $149,925.

#13 Overall, U.S. consumers are $11,360,000,000,000 in debt.

#14 The U.S. national debt is currently sitting at $17,263,040,455,036.20, and it is being reported that is has grown by $6.666 trillion during the Obama years so far.  Most of the burden of servicing that debt is going to fall on the middle class (if the middle class is able to survive that long).

#15 According to the Congressional Budget Office, interest payments on the national debt will nearly quadruple over the next ten years.

#16 Back in 1999, 64.1 percent of all Americans were covered by employment-based health insurance.  Today, only 54.9 percent of all Americans are covered by employment-based health insurance.

#17 More Americans than ever find themselves forced to turn to the government for help with health care.  At this point, 82.4 million Americans live in a home where at least one person is enrolled in the Medicaid program.

#18 There are 46.5 million Americans that are living in poverty, and the poverty rate in America has been at 15 percent or above for 3 consecutive years.  That is the first time that has happened since 1965.

#19 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the number of Americans on food stamps has gone from 32 million to 47 million.

#20 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the percentage of working age Americans that are actually working has declined from 60.6 percent to 58.6 percent.

#21 While Barack Obama has been in the White House, the average duration of unemployment in the United States has risen from 19.8 weeks to 37.1 weeks.

#22 Middle-wage jobs accounted for 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession, but they have accounted for only 22 percent of the jobs created since then.

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

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

#25 According to the most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49.2 percent of all Americans are receiving benefits from at least one government program each month.

#26 The U.S. government has spent an astounding 3.7 trillion dollars on welfare programs over the past five years.

#27 Only 35 percent of all Americans say that they are better off financially than they were a year ago.

#28 Only 19 percent of all Americans believe that the job market is better than it was a year ago.

As if the middle class didn't have enough to deal with, now here comes Obamacare.

As I have written about previously, Obamacare is going to mean higher taxes and much higher health insurance premiums for middle class Americans.

Not only that, but millions of hard working Americans are going to end up losing their jobs or having their hours cut back thanks to Obamacare.  For example, a fry cook named Darnell Summers recently told Barack Obama directly that he and his fellow workers "were broken down to part time to avoid paying health insurance"...

And the Congressional Budget Office now says that Obamacare could result in the loss of 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021.

Several million people will reduce their hours on the job or leave the workforce entirely because of incentives built into President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the Congressional Budget Office said Tuesday.


That would mean job losses equal to 2.3 million full-time jobs by 2021, in large part because people would opt to keep their income low to stay eligible for federal health care subsidies or Medicaid, the agency said. It had estimated previously that the law would lead to 800,000 fewer jobs by that year.

But even if we got rid of Obamacare tomorrow that would not solve the problems of the middle class.

The middle class has been shrinking for a very long time, and something dramatic desperately needs to be done.

The numbers that I shared above simply cannot convey the level of suffering that is going on out there on the streets of America today.  That is why I also like to share personal stories when I can.  Below, I have posted an excerpt from an open letter to Barack Obama that a woman with a Master's degree and 30 years of work experience recently submitted to the Huffington Post.  What this formerly middle class lady is having to endure because of this horrible economy is absolutely tragic...

Dear Mr. President,


I write to you today because I have nowhere else to turn. I lost my full time job in September 2012. I have only been able to find part-time employment -- 16 hours each week at $12 per hour -- but I don't work that every week. For the month of December, my net pay was $365. My husband and I now live in an RV at a campground because of my job loss. Our monthly rent is $455 and that doesn't include utilities. We were given this 27-ft. 1983 RV when I lost my job.


This is America today. We have no running water; we use a hose to fill jugs. We have no shower but the campground does. We have a toilet but it only works when the sewer line doesn't freeze -- if it freezes, we use the campground's restrooms. At night, in my bed, when it's cold out, my blanket can freeze to the wall of the RV.


We don't have a stove or an oven, just a microwave, so regular-food cooking is out. Recently we found a small toaster oven on sale so we can bake a little now because eating only microwaved food just wasn't working for us. We don't have a refrigerator, just an icebox (a block of ice cost about $1.89). It keeps things relatively cold. If it's freezing outside, we just put things on the picnic table.

You can read the rest of her incredibly heartbreaking letter right here.

This is not the America that I remember.

What in the world is happening to us?

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Millivanilli's picture

Time for Revolution.  


Bankers have immunity from prosecution for money laundering, securities fraud and market manipulation.  They fuck over savers,  I mean investors, with zero return on their money and control capital in a way to choke off small and mid sized businesses.   Corps have outsourced labor and pushed down wages and benefits at the same time the bankers are destroying the purchasing power of every dollar.  


The solution is simple, BOYCOTT the banks and corps.  Make them bleed out their ass until concessions are made to restore a living wage, interest rate and currency.


I think this is a message most people can understand.  

OC Sure's picture

Far greater men long ago stood up for so much less...and won.

If we decipher the message correctly then:

Cause of our ills = counterfeiting; solution = gold standard.

Millivanilli's picture

I pay my kid for chores in silver coinage pre 1965.  I often reflect about how America used to have SILVER MONEY!   Now we get plastic, paper and base metals which opens the door for unfettered rape.

ndotken's picture

The time is coming when people will march on Washington with whatever they have ... even if its torches and pitchforks ... and that time is drawing nigh

Soul Glow's picture

Unfortunately the people will not act until the bottom drops out of the markets.  The greatest generation won't react unless bonds rise above 10%, rendering their SSTF returns marginal.  Boomers won't react unless stocks fall under Dow 8k.  The younger generations won't make a move unless the dollar is shredded.

BLOTTO's picture

The masses are to complacent over here in N.A.


If anything, 'they' are probably surprised that we havent snapped yet as a whole.

Skateboarder's picture

When an article title starts with a number less than 30[ish], I know it's by Michael Snyder.

BLOTTO, the snap happens in an instant, as soon as the dollar goes. Since that's not for a long time away, it only gets uglier and uglier until the breaking point when people are sticking their heads out the window and saying "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore."

cifo's picture

28 signs because February has 28 days.

cifo's picture

"I pay my kid for chores in silver coinage pre 1965."

I have a friend who manages parking meters. Around the time school/university starts, he often finds silver quarters put in by these kids.

Millivanilli's picture



My kid follows the price of gold, silver, platinum and palladium and fully understands the bankers rackets- for example he watches prices rise in the grocery store.  You see, kids aren't stupid if they are taught how to reason using quantitative measures like mathematics.  

Common_Cents22's picture

Gotta love the dumb people who tell you prices are the same at the grocery store when the item net weight has been reduced significantly.   That bottle of ketchup is still only 3.25!   (yeah but went from 25oz to 18oz)

Son of Loki's picture

Middle Class, Private Sector is the correct description.


TruthInSunshine's picture

If I had faith in the American People, I'd expect that sooner rather than later, people would literally organize and take down Wall Street & too-big-to-fail banks that are literally the parasites that are draining the blood of what's left of the American Middle Class.

In fact, in times past, Americans would have already done this, whether by ballet box or cartridge casing.

It would only take III percent to effectively accomplish this, but are there 9 million out of 300 million Americans aware enough, motivated enough and rightfully angry enough to do something about the trajectory of their and their childrens' fate?

prains's picture

Problem is TIS out of the 9 million most are still too brainwashed to organize, that would be like being a communist union leftist loser. To be truly KKKool it all has to be done alone, god forbid you organize cuz that's way to commie union lefty fag-like. Doesn't matter if it's 90 million ready to march if it's ALL in 90 million dofferent directions. YOU ALL need to FOCUS THE IMPACT OF THE PUNCH TO A VERY SPECIFIC POINT IN YOUR COUNTRY>


unfortunately that takes organizing, banding together, god forbid teaming up together.....LOFUCKINGL...never gonna happen....you're ALL too fucking STOOPID....brainwashed 

GetZeeGold's picture





Yes we can......kill the middle class.


Everyone has to pitch in to make room the the deserving illegals.


Marco Rubio will be around to explain it to you in greater detail shortly.

PT's picture

I never counted how many signs were in here:


but it was all explained quite well.

SoberOne's picture

And people still want to deny this is being done deliberately. 

NoDebt's picture

Nothing like this could happen except by deliberate attempt.  We're just documenting it for future generations so maybe they'll have a better chance identifying it and heading it off earlier in the process.  Our goose is cooked- way too late to stop it.  The infection has spread much too far to avoid terminal decline.  

Stuck on Zero's picture

The middle class doesn't need to revolt.  All we have to do is stop working for a few weeks.


lasvegaspersona's picture

Hate to break it to you but Brokaw's 'greatest generation' is almost gone...just a few 'tweeners' (too young for WW2 too old to be boomers) still around. Boomers are just starting to retire, most still carry the load.

zhandax's picture

All you relatively new dipshits pay attention;, if you had any capacity, this would fall on you.  Since you don't, the whole thing will collapse,

Agent P's picture

Who is going to march against the government? The shrinking middle class who are trying desperately not to lose what they have, or the lower class who is becoming increasingly dependent on that same government for more and more of their daily expenses? Only way I see group 1 is if tax rates double to support group 2. Only way I see group 2 is of the gravy train is cut off because group 1 refuses to pay. Unfortunately, if this slow migration from group 1 to 2 continues, I don't see any pitchforks coming out of the shed.

OC Sure's picture

They can't march against something unless they march for something.

This is what the 1st amendment petition for a redress of grievances is all about.

Remember the founders declaration and other writings coincided with the violence.

It won't go down the same way, never does; for now, it is still a battle of words.

A 2nd constitutional convention now would be a disaster without the media on the constitution's side.

zaphod's picture

And that is how a feudal system is recreated in north america. 

Caviar Emptor's picture

Meet a member of the American "used-to-haves" http://t.co/GBi27g0bLK

IridiumRebel's picture

I like the quip about "the GOP Congress"....yep. The Dems have no part in this. Fuck HuffPo.

lasvegaspersona's picture

Agent P

It does not require a tax revolt. The USG does not spend what it taxes it spends what it can borrow. The 'event' will be a dollar problem not a revenue issue. When borrowing begins to cause real inflation...well you had better be ready before then...

mrdenis's picture

"Americans won't be chained to their jobs" ....Obama 

Kiss My Icelandic Ass's picture

"BOYCOTT the banks and corps."


It's a kind of blunt instrument but the only weapon available to wealth creators is the boycott. Boycott the political process. Boycott banks and retailers. Most importantly, do not participate in the sham "political" process. Don't vote. Don't validate and legitimize these criminals with your vote.

kchrisc's picture

Printing is theft, government is death, guillotines are redemption.


The Four Rs
Rejection: Quit paying, quit obeying , quit playing
Revolution: It is inevitable, so prepare, as they are.
Retribution: Is there really any place for these sociopaths and criminals in a restored civil and Constitutional society?!
Restoration: Restore the Constitutional republic.

Trucker Glock's picture

Restore the confederation of sovereign states.


I recommend reading the Anti-Federalist papers.  They are enlightening.  The Constitution is part of the problem.

The Dunce's picture

A country without a middle class is just a banana republic.  Sad.

PT's picture

Millivanilli:  It's easy to imagine the townsfolk storming the manor, but what is the modern, real world equivalent?

Realistically, what would it take for everyone to jump in their cars, buses and planes and storm DC?  'cos as far as I know, most DC-ites are doing okay.  I just don't see it.  Sorry, it could easily be ignorance on my part.  What's plan B?  Turn off the TV, radio, stop buying newspapers, demand to be paid in cash?  I guess that might work.  Don't pay rent or mortgage, publish a list of empty Blackrock homes for the homeless to occupy?  Organize a mob to turn away the sheriff?


So Close's picture

Being bled dry... drop by drop.

CPL's picture

The orange was freshly squeezed a long time ago and slurped down without an after thought.  The situation right now is the orange rind is being grated over salteens because the pigs ate the whole spread a while ago.

The man with pointy horns's picture

There's this piece of crap in the article: "Being independent is at the heart of what it means to be "middle class""

How the fuck are you independent when you're up to eyeballs in mortgage payments, credit card debt, tuition fees, healthcare insurance costs and that gas-guzzling humvee? The middle class are the ultimate debt-serfs. Bow to your banking overlords bitchez!

Ugh, yet more cognitive dissonance and misconceptions about the mythical middle class.

buttmint's picture

America is Casino Nation...or RV Nation, take your pick!


Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Damn you.....you just spawned another stupid reality show.

Tasty Sandwich's picture

I need at least twenty-nine signs before I'm convinced of anything.

Human beings are heading towards extinction.

Soul Glow's picture

The wiset people I know, when I asked them in '08 what they thought was happening, said it was the end of the "squeeze" for the middle class.  Some people don't believe the elite would "kill their milk cow".  Unfortunately for Betsie, she ran out of milk and the farmer's family is hungry.

DanDaley's picture

Like Doug Casey says, governments see you as a milk cow, until they don't need you, and then they see you as a beef cow.

Westcoastliberal's picture

This is being done at the industry level as well.  For example the Radio industry is now consolidated to the hilt with 3 owners holding most of the decent broadcast stations, and they've taken their employees through layoff after layoff to the point where in some markets just a couple of people are running 6-7 Radio stations.  Each of these formerly had a staff of at least 6-10.

Revenues are 1/2 what they once were, but they keep insisting on "squeezing the Goose".

Moe Howard's picture

Maybe if someone put something on the radio worth listening to, things might be different. It's a wasteland on my dial.

BuddyEffed's picture

This article on the endangered middle class posited as it's final comment "What in the world is happening to us?"

For the answer to that, let me link you back to Gail Tverberg's ZH article from a few hours ago.


Then try reading between the lines, or connecting the dots, or X marks the spot, or shout Bingo, or wake up and smell the coffee, or have an epiphany, or a leap of faith, or get with the program, or shout Eureka I found it, or come to papa, or jump to a conclusion, or find your needle in the haystack, or see the light, or no shit Sherlock, or "it was Barzini", or "I see I see said the blind man" or  kiss that frog when you come to it, or the Great Oz has spoken, or Doh! or "You can't handle the truth", or "Did you order the Code Red? You're goddam right I did", or “I hold at your neck the gom jabbar”, or “Try looking into that place where you dare not look! You'll find me there, staring out at you”, or "You best start believing in ghost stories, you're in one.     Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha.  What are you lookin at, Back to Work"  -- Captain Barbosa

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1fzXmJyolfYv-- Barbosa link, and Oh My Goddess, what an awesome Miss Turner

Occams_Chainsaw's picture

Why does my ass hurt so much?

dogmete's picture


they say comedy is all about timing but sometimes it's about spelling.

NoDebt's picture

Have you experienced any blackouts recently shortly after consuming a drink handed to you by somebody you barely know?