America was once known for having the largest, most optimistic, middle class in the world. However, the ranks of the US middle class have been steadily declining – some say “systematically destroyed.”
“Our incomes are shrinking, our share of the income pie is at an all-time low, our jobs are being sent overseas... and millions of formerly middle class Americans have fallen into poverty.”
According to Peter Edelman of Georgetown University, and author of “So Rich, So Poor: Why It’s So Hard to End Poverty in America,” over 15 million additional people have fallen into the poverty since the turn of the century.
Edelman says, “The structure of today’s economy has stultified wage growth for half of America’s workers—with even worse results at the bottom and for people of color—while bestowing billions on those at the top.”
Part of the economic inequality could be caused by demographic changes. For instance, the increase in single-parent families is driving down median household incomes. However, current economic stresses also add to marital conflict, which in turn adds to the number of single-parent families.
There are many debatable issues. However, what we know is that economic inequality is growing again. Also, according to Richard Burkhauser, an economist at Cornell University, “It rose... because virtually everyone below the 90th percentile is still falling.”
This reality, combined with the increase in unemployment, has caused some disturbing social changes. Take a look at these depressing statistics:
One out of three young adult males now live with their parents.
20% of all young men now live with their parents.
5.9 million young adults, ages 25-34 now live with their parents – an 25% increase from 2007
Employment among 16-29 year olds declined 18% from 2000 to 2010, and is now at the lowest rate since WWII!.
37% of all families where the head of household is younger than 30 is now living in poverty.
Young married adults, ages 25-34, has declined to a record low of just 44%.
An increasing number of young adults are putting off marriage, having children, buying homes, and instead are opting to move back home with their parents for economic reasons. Young adults account for 26 percent of America’s unemployed, and about 17 percent of them are jobless.
According to the recent annual census report, “Income inequality increased by 1.6 percent." That's the biggest one-year increase in almost two decades, and it suggests that the trend in place since the late 1970s is picking up steam.
“...The 60 percent of households earning between roughly $20,000 and $101,000 collectively earned 46.6 of all income, a 1.5 percent drop. ...In contrast, the census data show, the top fifth rose 1.6 percent in 2011. ...The biggest gains went to the top 5 percent, who earn more than $186,000; their share of income jumped almost 5 percent in a single year.”
Here are an additional 60 facts that show that the US middle class is being steadily wiped out.
This trend must be reversed, and there are solutions. Those answers aren't very popular with the top 5% whose incomes are increasing while everyone else's declines. However, the 95% (some say 99% ) can make a difference!
A recent 5-part seminar tells how. The last session, for instance discussed how to establish fair, equitable and sustainable economics on the local and global levels. Topics included:
Financing the green economy - the Green Transition Scoreboard.
Holistic integrated green tax shift - Vermont Commons Assets for Public Finance.
The false housing shortage and what to do about it - Real Estate 4 Ransom.
The NINJA generation and new economics.
From the grand chessboard to the greatest game on earth.
Guest Presenters: Hazel Henderson (USA), Gary Flo (USA), Karl Fitzgerald (Australia)