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The Incredible Shrinking Middle Class

Tales from the Front

Written by Steve Christ
Posted February 16, 2011 at 6:55PM

rich chart

Here's a copy of the chart of the day.As you might have suspected, the rich get richer while everyone else basically gets to tread water.

The article that follows once again drives home a point I have been harping on for years now: The Middle Class in a state of terminal decline.

And when it vanishes for good, America will be a very different place.

If you ask me, in a lot of ways it already is....

From CNNMONEY by Annalyn Censky entitled: How the middle class became the underclass

Are you better off than your parents? Probably not if you're in the middle class.

Incomes for 90% of Americans have been stuck in neutral, and it's not just because of the Great Recession. Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for at least a generation, while the wealthiest tier has surged ahead at lighting speed.

In 1988, the income of an average American taxpayer was $33,400, adjusted for inflation. Fast forward 20 years, and not much had changed: The average income was still just $33,000 in 2008, according to IRS data.

Experts point to some of the usual suspects -- like technology and globalization -- to explain the widening gap between the haves and have-nots.

One major pull on the working man was the decline of unions and other labor protections, said Bill Rodgers, a former chief economist for the Labor Department, now a professor at Rutgers University.

International competition is another factor. While globalization has lifted millions out of poverty in developing nations, it hasn't exactly been a win for middle class workers in the U.S.

Factory workers have seen many of their jobs shipped to other countries where labor is cheaper, putting more downward pressure on American wages.

"As we became more connected to China, that poses the question of whether our wages are being set in Beijing," Rodgers said.

Finding it harder to compete with cheaper manufacturing costs abroad, the U.S. has emerged as primarily a services-producing economy. That trend has created a cultural shift in the job skills American employers are looking for.

As a result, the disparity between the wages for college educated workers versus high school grads has widened significantly since the 1980s.

In 1980, workers with a high school diploma earned about 71% of what college-educated workers made. In 2010, that number fell to 55%.

Meanwhile, as corporate profits come roaring back and the stock market charges ahead, the wealthiest people continue to eclipse their middle-class counterparts.

"I think it's a terrible dilemma, because what we're obviously heading toward is some kind of class warfare," Johnson said.”

 

Again, the status quo cannot possibly be maintained...

By the way....The richest 1% of U.S. households had a net worth 225 times greater than that of the average American household in 2009, according to analysis conducted by the Economic Policy Institute That's up from the previous record of 190 times greater, which was set in 2004.

Related Articles:

The Middle Class Recession

The Student Loan Scam

The $19.6 Trillion Debt Bomb

Elizabeth Warren on The Shrinking Middle Class

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