The Late, Great American Middle Class

You don’t have to tell working families that America’s middle class is shrinking. They already know. But for all the disbelievers and naysayers, an article from the Business Insider provides further proof. A total of 22 staggering stats, to be exact.

“The reality is that no matter how smart, how strong, how educated or how hard working American workers are, they just cannot compete with people who are desperate to put in 10 to 12 hour days at less than a dollar an hour on the other side of the world,” writes editor Michael Snyder. “After all, what corporation in their right mind is going to pay an American worker 10 times more (plus benefits) to do the same job? The world is fundamentally changing. Wealth and power are rapidly becoming concentrated at the top and the big global corporations are making massive amounts of money. Meanwhile, the American middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence as U.S. workers are slowly being merged into the new ‘global’ labor pool.”

Snyder’s 22 signs America’s middle class is slowly being wiped out include statistics showing 61 percent of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck compared to 49 percent in 2008 and 43 percent in 2007; 66 percent of income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1 percent of Americans; and only the top 5 percent of U.S. households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975.

“In 1950, the ratio of the average executive’s paycheck to the average worker’s paycheck was about 30 to 1,” writes Snyder. “Since the year 2000, that ratio has exploded to between 300 and 500 to 1.”

A recent report by the National Urban League provides further proof of working families’ demise, especially as it pertains to minorities. The State of Urban JobsAugust 2010 Employment Report shows a 16.3 percent unemployment rate among African Americans and a 12 percent rate among Latinos. That’s compared to the national unemployment rate of 9.6 percent.

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