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

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Michael Snyder of THe Economic Collapse blog,

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.

And here are some hard numbers to back that assertion up.  The following are 15 more signs that the middle class is dying...

#1 According to a brand new CNN poll, 59 percent of Americans believe that it has become impossible for most people to achieve the American Dream...

The American Dream is impossible to achieve in this country.


So say nearly 6 in 10 people who responded to CNNMoney's American Dream Poll, conducted by ORC International. They feel the dream -- however they define it -- is out of reach.


Young adults, age 18 to 34, are most likely to feel the dream is unattainable, with 63% saying it's impossible. This age group has suffered in the wake of the Great Recession, finding it hard to get good jobs.

#2 More Americans than ever believe that homeownership is not a key to long-term wealth and prosperity...

The great American Dream is dying. Even though many Americans still desire to own a home, they are losing faith in homeownership as a key to prosperity.


Nearly two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, believe they are less likely to build wealth by buying a home today than they were 20 or 30 years ago, according to a survey sponsored by non-profit MacArthur Foundation. And nearly 43% said buying a home is no longer a good long-term investment.

#3 Overall, the rate of homeownership in the United States has fallen for eight years in a row, and it has now dropped to the lowest level in 19 years.

#4 52 percent of Americans cannot even afford the house that they are living in right now...

"Over half of Americans (52%) have had to make at least one major sacrifice in order to cover their rent or mortgage over the last three years, according to the “How Housing Matters Survey,” which was commissioned by the nonprofit John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and carried out by Hart Research Associates. These sacrifices include getting a second job, deferring saving for retirement, cutting back on health care, running up credit card debt, or even moving to a less safe neighborhood or one with worse schools."

#5 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, only 36 percent of Americans under the age of 35 own a home.  That is the lowest level that has ever been measured.

#6 Right now, approximately one out of every six men in the United States that are in their prime working years (25 to 54) do not have a job.

#7 The labor force participation rate for Americans from the age of 25 to the age of 29 has fallen to an all-time record low.

#8 The number of working age Americans that are not employed has increased by 27 million since the year 2000.

#9 According to the government's own numbers, about 20 percent of the families in the entire country do not have a single member that is employed at this point.

#10 This may sound crazy, but 25 percent of all American adults do not even have a single penny saved up for retirement.

#11 As I noted in one recent article, total consumer credit in the United States has increased by 22 percent over the past three years, and 56 percent of all Americans have "subprime credit" at this point.

#12 Major retailers are shutting down stores at the fastest pace that we have seen since the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

#13 It is hard to believe, but more than one out of every five children in the United States is living in poverty in 2014.

#14 According to one recent report, there are 49 million Americans that are dealing with food insecurity right now.

#15 Overall, the U.S. poverty rate is up more than 30 percent since 1966.  It looks like LBJ's war on poverty didn't work out too well after all.

Sadly, it does not appear that there is much hope on the horizon for the middle class.  More good jobs are being shipped out of the country and are being lost to technology every single day, and our politicians seem convinced that "business as usual" is the right course of action for our nation.

Unless something dramatic happens, it is going to become increasingly difficult to eke out a middle class existence as a "worker bee" in American society.  The truth is that most big companies these days do not have any loyalty to their workers and really do not care what ends up happening to them.

To thrive in this kind of environment, new and different thinking is required.  The paradigm of "go to college, get a job, stay loyal and retire after 30 years" has been shattered.  The business world is more unstable now than it has been during any point in the post-World War II era, and we are all going to have to adjust.

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Stackers's picture

"The American Dream" was always a fabricated marketing term in the first place. People have always had to struggle and work hard simply to survive. All we need to do is diconnect from the consumerist "dream" as some marker of self worth and achievement. The baby boomers got their 'dream' on the backs of future generations prosperity they pulled into their present through excess debt financed consumption. Now welcome to the future where we get to feel the real effect of all that displaced prosperity.

Anusocracy's picture

"The American Dream is impossible to achieve in this country."

Just a consequence of the actions of the Idiot American Voter.

Vote On!

markmotive's picture

The American Dream has been dying for 30 years.

The Coming Collapse of the Middle Class:


Son of Loki's picture

1-in-4 Merikans Regret Buying a House (Redfin real Estate Analysis)


One in four American homeowners (25%) who bought the home they’re currently in said that they would not buy their home again if they had to do it all over, according to a nationwide survey from Redfin and conducted online by Harris Poll among more than 2,000 U.S. adults.







jbvtme's picture

not sure why burying the middle class is such a bad thing. i'm long shovels

johngaltfla's picture

The middle class died over a decade ago. The banksters and Marxists are now working together to kill them off and start paring down our population to reduce competition and impose "their" version of captialism.

Just Another Anonymous Victim of the Economic Recovery

max2205's picture

Can we get some new lists....?

tarsubil's picture

No shit. What is the point of reading these same statistics over again?

RevRex's picture

damn, so I make more than the average worker, and I retired at age 48...I wonder how long I will still get a pension check...

GubbermintWorker's picture

I'm extremely happy with my home. FIve acres with a vegetable garden, berry bushes, apple trees, standby diesel genset, and since we'eve lived here for 25 yrs there's not much left on the mortgage. We stayed put in a small energy efficient ranch home instead of trading up to a starter castle.

dizzyfingers's picture

I now consider "home ownership" a scam that locks "owners" into paying endlessly for municipal and school employees via property taxes. Would never do it again; better to be free of the entanglements of "ownership" -- we don't "own" houses, they own us. Hindsight: if I had all the money I's spent for/on my house over 30 years, I'd be rich.

DadzMad's picture

I do today, my water heater took a shit.  I'm doing my part to boost the economy.  Some WI plumber will get an extra Old Fashioned with his fish fry tonight from my wallet.  Trickle down (or is that up?....).

PT's picture

I was going to post that link.  Now I don't have to.  Thanks.

fonzannoon's picture

I don't have buyers remorse, I have buyers "holy shit wtf was I thinking".

I MISS KUDLOW's picture

"middle class is dyeing" the patient is already brain dead,,,,,,,just the organs are functioning right  now waiting for the transplant donation

PT's picture

I'm good at maths.  So I ended up homeless.


Not quite true.  I did manage to snatch a pocket of an egg carton before the "boom" took off in earnest but I can't even imagine trading it for a cardboard box.  The later versions of me (younger people who can do maths) will be homeless.


Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Ummm homlesssssss...... so you must be in California using a solar powered laptop??

GubbermintWorker's picture

Did your mom rent out the basement right out from under you?

PT's picture

Sorry you two, read the fine print.  Next time I guess I'd better not use fine print.

Chuck Walla's picture

A prosperous middle class is far too independent. Dependency makes for reliable votes for Progressives.


Bay of Pigs's picture

Youre such an assshole and dumbfuck. Nobody cares what you think James. Give it up.

James_Cole's picture

You're funny bop, just show up to call me a dumbfuck and then disappear. It's like having a personal troll. Though you've made one grievous error, my comment was not in regard to gold / silver, so what are you doin' here man?? 

Bay of Pigs's picture

Disappear? Ive been here over 4 years clown. And I've read some really stupid shit around here since then, but yours is always near the top of the list.


Flakmeister's picture


You are right up there when it comes to displaying how little you truly understand how the world works...

Bay of Pigs's picture

Coming from you, I'll take that as a compliment.

sessinpo's picture

James_Cole    A prosperous middle class is far too independent. Dependency makes for reliable votes for Progressives.

This is the thatcher / reagan dream realized right here (progressives make great boogie men on the teevee though, you're right):


To bad thousands of years of progressiveness (that fails and retrys again under new packaging) has failed shows you are wrong.

And to address your images you linked too:

Image 1) Unions are destroying themselves and have tried to adjust by moving to the public sector, since the public sector and the unions are corrupt. And I am in a union.

Image 2) Your chart of the number of corporations controlling media companies is IRRELEVANT because the financial/economic structure has changed. Why don't you just make a comparison to that of the 1950s when there were no cable companies and just 3 networks?

Image 3) Again, the financial world has changed. Is it right? Maybe no, maybe yes. But look at your image. Who cares that kraft has all these brands they created or bought. Get serious. How about pictures of collusion between government and corporations. That is something worth while (fascsism).

Image 4) You bought into the class warfare. Of course the rich always get richer. If yiou had 100 million in assets that made you 100k annually, you are set for life and don't have to work. You can spend your time and excess money to increase your networth. Mean while the average person is spending most of his money on day to day stuff with very little left over to invest to increase wealth. The problem is with the poor that won't save to invest in future wealth.

Image 4) Perhaps you have never heard of economies of scale. Let me provide you the definition. "cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output."

In othe words, costs to consumers are reduced because costs of producers are reduced when producers can mass produce at a lower cost. Sure we could have 1000 hog producers instead of 100 (just picking numbers). But if we had 1000 hog producers, the cost would be higer and so would the cost to consumers.

Flakmeister's picture


Unless you are really trying to tell us that Walmart is a good thing...

Are you?

James-Morrison's picture

The Golden Age of middle class is a myth.

When I was young, our 1 week summer vacation consisted of packing up the Ford and driving to Minnesota or the Dakotas.

We filled up the trunk with cheap sleeping bags, a 10 x10 tent, and a plywood "chuck wagon" my father and I made to carry the "kitchen".

We looked like the Beverly Hillbillies.

History always looks better in the rear view mirror.

We had fun though. We didn't realize we were in the 40-60%.

The Shape's picture

Yep, but I bet your holiday was fully paid there and then.

We had fun though. We didn't realize we were in the 40-60%.

And that's the key. Most kids whose parents gave them the debt financed high life are living in misery in adulthood because they're still pining for something that was never sustainable in the first place.

Marco's picture

It was easier to live within your means then though, there were less fixed costs and employment was more steady. The high fixed costs and constant job insecurity makes life less pleasant now.

Marco's picture

Day by day the rich get richer, must be a conspiracy of the progressives.

SilverRhino's picture

That's some seriously fucked up metrics.

max2205's picture

Impossible....FSA makes 58k a year


Disability 60k....oh and 70% aren't disabled

Thats just the non working


Why work

NihilistZero's picture

The Oligarchs destroy opportunities and living standards for the vast majoority of Americans and you're mad some of them are getting a few hundred dollars a month for disabilities???

You truly are a dumb fuck.  Kill yourself, please.

The real "Free Shit Army" is the rentier class and all their sychophants.  Everyone else is just trying to get by.

PT's picture

0.1  The link provided by markmotive's comment 4828834.

0.2  Does anyone remember the term, "mortgage distress"?  It kicked in when someone's mortgage repayments exceeded 30% of their wage.  Or was it 36%?  I can't remember.  Tell you what, benefit of the doubt, I'll give you 36% till mortgage distress kicks in, I'll even use "before-tax" dollars.
So if the median wage is $27520 per year then the median house price should be $120 000 at 7% interest with a 25 year loan.

"Oh, but PT, interest rates aren't 7%."
Okay then, at 4% the median house price should be a tad under $160k.  And do I need to mention that such houses must be within reasonable travel distance of some kind of income producing activity for its occupants?  I will not accept Detroit bomb-wrecks skewing the statistics unless you are willing to factor in the price of supersonic armoured cars to deliver said occupants to their place of work.

"Oh, but PT, we borrow for 30 and 40 years, not 25."
May I ask why?  Over 40 years at 4%, you can borrow $200k instead of $160k (25% increase) but it took you a 60% increase in time to repay.  Your total interest paid as a percentage of what you borrowed increases from 57% to 98%, but that is at 4% interest rates.  Do you guys pay 4%?  (I really don't know.)
At 7% interest, your 60% increase in time to repay lets you borrow 15% more ( borrow $137k instead of $120k ) and total interest paid as a percentage of what you borrowed increases from 107% to 190%.

"Oh, but PT, supply and demand and free markets and blah blah blah if you want a house then ..."
... if you want a house then the price is determined by your stupidity and desperation and the sleaziness of your bankster versus someone else's desperation, stupidity and the sleaziness of their bankster.  (And did I mention that all the good bankers are were fired / passed over for promotion due to "underperformance"... ) "Fwee markits!  There is no better way!"  From a banksters point of view, I've just shown you that there certainly is "no better way". 

But what happened to the "fwee markits" providing prices that their customers can afford?  You know, if no-one can afford to buy tellies then the price of tellies comes down - either through smaller profit margins or smaller tellies.  What happened to increased prices leading to increased supply which then moderates the prices?  Oh yeah, land - they ain't making any more of it.  So, for starters, perhaps we can stop putting "real estate" and "free markets" in the same sentence for this reason alone:  supply is limited and cannot be ramped up to accommodate demand.  (Although we can debate that for a long time - plenty of unused land outside the cities ...)  Besides that, the debt associated with that land is still there and the bankster masters have declare that SOMEONE ELSE has to pay!

You know, (ignoring the effects of accumulated debt) I'd argue that the median wage is not such a bad problem ( don't worry, let it fall a bit more and eventually you will be able to compete with China ) if real estate prices fell to accommodate the wages.  Prices are supposed to bear some kind of relation to what people can afford to pay, be it a TV set, food, clothes, a car, the house someone lives in or the land underneath a supermarket or a factory.  But the owners of the land and the owners of the debt don't want to let that happen.  And they're in charge at the moment.

To PONZI FINANCE and Beyond!!!

MisterMousePotato's picture

I am with you 100% on this. THE problem is that real estate prices are too high. If real estate cost a reasonable amount, all other problems would correct.

I bought a house (a very, very cheap house, I would hasten to mention) for cash. Sold a bunch of junk in the old house. Saved dough for a few months, and bought something sight unseen over the net (finally saw it last week).

Needs some work, but has all the amenities. New steel roof, etc. And, it is in a very, very low cost area. Taxes under $200 a year. Water ten bucks a month. 4g even if that's your thing. Maybe an eighth of a mile to the post office, school, etc. Piped natural gas. The forest begins, literally, at my back door and ends at the North Pole.

With those kinds of expenses (no mortgage, cheap utilities and taxes, car paid for, etc.), I wouldn't know what to do with $27,000 a year (although I'm sure MrsMousePotato would have no trouble educating me). I would thrive and prosperr on half that amount, and could probably survive pretty well on just a quarter of that.

The difference between me and others is mainly my cost for housing. And remember ... if you need ten or 20 thousand dollars a year to pay a mortgage or rent, you actually need an amount greater than that to pay the taxes on the money you need to earn to pay the mortgage.

Think of what this country could be if people could thrive on $27,000 a year, or even lesser amounts. Imagine making that kinda money, being able to support a family, and save half of what you make.

Everyone's running around like we have great big, complicated, economic problems, but all that needs be done is fix taxes and the price of housing.

jaxville's picture

   High real estate prices (and other rising living costs) are a direct result of fractional reserve banking/credit based money. Things only get worse until the trash gets taken out.

sessinpo's picture

NihilistZero     MisterMousePotato, you get it.

Far to many here don't...


Acutally either of you get it. Take your concept and apply it everywhere else. For example

If care were less, I could buy another car. If food were less, I could buy more food. If X were less, I could by Y.

Well, no shit. That also means that producer or seller of Y makes less and their employees make less. For example:

The house that sold for 100k now sells for 50k. Well that means less commission for the RE agent and company. That RE has to adjust to lower income. Same goes for contractors. What used to be a 20 k renovation isn't worth it on a property worth only 50k. So the contractor has to find a way to do it for maybe 10k? And thus the contractor has to adjust to a lower income.

Welcome to deflation.

PT's picture

In the time it took real estate prices to quadruple, nothing else went up by any amount even close to that and you refuse to acknowledge this as a problem.  Go back to sleep.

MisterMousePotato's picture

"So the contractor has to find a way to do it for maybe 10k? And thus the contractor has to adjust to a lower income."

Well, yes. But that is exactly the point I was trying to make; viz., that your contractor can now afford to do it for 10k because HIS housing costs, too, are now reasonable. It's no hardship for him; in fact, he'll end up making more when his mortgage is 50k instead of 100k: Lower taxes (he doesn't have to earn so much to pay the mortgage) and, as you point out, everything else will come down in price, too, because all of the people selling (or making) whatever services or goods he is interested in will also be able to do so for less because they, too, don't need two or three thousand dollars a month, every month, coming right off the top to pay for housing.

The system is rediculous.

Miggy's picture

The "coming" collapse?

PT's picture

Look at the date on the video.  2009 if I remember rightly. 
This link here:
was uploaded on 31st January 2008 but then the "About" commentary also says, "Series: "UC Berkeley Graduate Council Lectures" [6/2007] [Public Affairs] [Business] [Show ID: 12620]"

Does that mean the lecture took place in June 2007?  (I don't know.)  Is it starting to look more prophetic now?

BeerMe's picture

Not marketing.  A progressive ideal.

-.-'s picture

Um...I agree with you Mr. (or Ms.) Stackers,


Please, just fucking read, do meaningful drugs accordingly, and listen to music prior to the perfected market for "sounds".

Here is a starter for y'all: The Spectacle (i.e., the Internet) by Guy Dubord, c. 1967




Mezcalero Leo

Chewybunny's picture

The American Dream is the most subjective thing ever. My family came to the US as refugees, our American dream has already been achieved: we live fairly comfortable lives in comparison to the communist hell hole we came from.