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Robert Longley

Middle Class was Decade's Biggest Loser: Report

By August 29, 2012

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While the presidential candidates feed them promises, America's middle-class wage earners are suffering from a decade during which their household incomes fell steadily for the first time since World War II, according to a depressing report from the Pew Research Center.

According to the report, The Lost Decade of the Middle Class, while the median household income of middle-income workers fell by 5% from 2000 to 2010, their median wealth - total assets minus debt - fell 28%, to $93,150 from $129,582.

And the Wealth Gap Grew Wider: During the same 2000-2010 period, the median household wealth of upper-income Americans actually rose by 1%, to $574,788 from $569,905. However, the median household wealth of lower-income families plummeted by 45%, to $10,151 from $18,421.

Related: Household Net Worth Plummeted During Recession

Among middle-class adults, 85% told Pew it was harder for them to maintain their standard of living now than it was ten years ago.

Bringing the Blame: Who's to blame? Of the 85% who found it harder to maintain their standard of living, 62% blamed Congress, 54% blamed the banks, 47% large corporations, 44% the George W. Bush administration, 39% foreign competition for jobs, 34% the Obama administration, and only 8% blamed the middle-class itself.

Recession and Recovery: While the government declared the Great Recession over in June 2009, most middle-class Americans didn't notice. In fact, according to the Pew survey, 62% said they were forced to reduce their household spending in 2011 simply because money was tight, compared to 53% who had to cut back in 2008.

Overall, 42% of middle-class adults said their household's financial situation was hurt by the recession, while 32% say they are in better shape, and an additional 23% said their finances had not been affected by the recession.

While the post-recession economy may be rebounding, the Pew report suggests it may take years for middle-class workers to recover.

Of those who said they are in worse financial shape, 51% said it would take them at least five years to recover, including 8% who predict they will never make up the lost ground.

Pew's research reported in The Lost Decade of the Middle Class, was based on a national survey of 2,508 adults, 49% of whom identified themselves as middle-class and 32% who identified themselves as being lower or lower-middle class.

Also See: Even in Recession, Congress' Pay Grew


February 4, 2013 at 9:05 pm
(1) NNovykh says:

The middle class are those who angrily insisted that families getting by on $4,000 – $5,000 (annual) aid were living in lazy comfort, buying big screen TVs, designer clothes, etc., therefore having no incentive to find jobs. Maybe a factor contributing to our current inability to resolve socio-economic problems is math illiteracy.

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