Americans have long lived in a nation made up primarily of middle-class families, neither rich nor poor, but comfortable enough, notes NPR's Marilyn Geewax, but this year - for the first time in US history, that changed. A new analysis of government data shows that as of 2015, middle-income households have become the minority, extending a multi-decade decline that confirms the hollowing out of society as 49% of all Americans now live in a home that receives money from the government each month. Sadly, the trends that are destroying the middle class in America just continue to accelerate.
Back in 1971, about 2 out of 3 Americans lived in middle-income households. Since then, the middle has been steadily shrinking.
Today, just a shade under half of all households (about 49.9 percent) have middle incomes. Slightly more than half of Americans (about 50.1 percent) either live in a lower-class household (roughly 29 percent) or an upper-class household (about 21 percent).
As NPR explains, thanks to factory closings and other economic factors, the country now has 120.8 million adults living in middle-income households, the study found. That compares with the 121.3 million who are living in either upper- or lower-income households.
"The hollowing of the middle has proceeded steadily for the past four decades," Pew concluded.
And middle-income Americans not only have shrunk as a share of the population but have fallen further behind financially, with their median income down 4 percent compared with the year 2000, Pew said.
Since 1970, the U.S. economy has been growing, and we all have been getting wealthier. But people who have the biggest incomes have been pulling away from the pack in a trend that shows no sign of slowing... as middle-income jobs are still 900,000 short of pre-recession employment levels...
And if you’re a millennial, you’d be forgiven for being disillusioned with the American dream. As we recently noted, compared to young Americans in 1986, you’re three times as likely to think the American dream is dead and buried. As WaPo notes, "young workers today are significantly more pessimistic about the possibility of success in America than their counterparts were in 1986, according to a new Fusion 2016 Issues poll - a shift that appears to reflect lingering damage from the Great Recession and more than a decade of wage stagnation for typical workers.”
While there are numerous reasons for the collapse of the American Middle Class (most appear driven by political 'fairness' or monetary policy intended consequences), though we suspect politicians learned long ago that it's easier to just import non-Americanized voters to vote for you, than, as FutureMoneyTrends notes, to get naturalized citizens who still cherish the idea of America to vote for things like national healthcare systems, higher taxes on business owners, and the catering to every little tribal group that declares themselves a minority.
It is only a matter of time before the middle class is wiped out and America begins to resemble the poverty, violence and tyranny so often associated with the countries from which many illegal migrants originate.
It appears that time is drawing near as Charles Hugh-Smith recently noted, the mainstream is finally waking up to the future of the American Dream: downward mobility for all but the top 10% of households.
Downward mobility and social defeat lead to social depression. Here are the conditions that characterize social depression:
1. High expectations of endless rising prosperity have been instilled in generations of citizens as a birthright.
2. Part-time and unemployed people are marginalized, not just financially but socially.
3. Widening income/wealth disparity as those in the top 10% pull away from the shrinking middle class.
4. A systemic decline in social/economic mobility as it becomes increasingly difficult to move from dependence on the state (welfare) or one's parents to financial independence.
5. A widening disconnect between higher education and employment: a college/university degree no longer guarantees a stable, good-paying job.
6. A failure in the Status Quo institutions and mainstream media to recognize social recession as a reality.
7. A systemic failure of imagination within state and private-sector institutions on how to address social recession issues.
8. The abandonment of middle class aspirations by the generations ensnared by the social recession: young people no longer aspire to (or cannot afford) consumerist status symbols such as luxury autos or homeownership.
9. A generational abandonment of marriage, families and independent households as these are no longer affordable to those with part-time or unstable employment, i.e. what I have termed (following Jeremy Rifkin) the end of work.
10. A loss of hope in the young generations as a result of the above conditions.
If you don't think these apply, please check back in a year. We'll have a firmer grasp of social depression in December 2016.