Michael Snyder, Contributor
The middle class in the United States is being systematically destroyed, and nobody is doing much of anything to stop it. Our incomes are shrinking, our share of the income pie is at an all-time low, our jobs are being sent overseas, debt burdens have soared to unprecedented heights and millions of formerly middle class Americans have fallen into poverty.
America once had the largest and most vibrant middle class that the world has ever seen, but now it is rapidly being shredded. Unfortunately, this is particularly true for younger Americans. Today, families that have a head of household that is under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent. That is astounding. The truth is that there are not enough decent jobs for the hordes of young people that are entering the marketplace each year.
Once upon a time, a college degree was just about a guaranteed ticket to the middle class, but in 2011 more than half of all college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed. Sadly, statistics tell us that the younger you are, the less likely you are to have a chance to live “the American Dream”. Nearly half the country already lives in a household that receives direct financial assistance from the federal government, and that percentage grows with each passing day.
We are rapidly being transformed from a country of middle class citizens into a country of impoverished government dependents. If dramatic changes are not made, the middle class in America will continue to decline every single year. What would our society look like if the middle class disappeared entirely at some point?
#1 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the middle class is taking home a smaller share of the overall income pie than has ever been recorded before.
#2 As the middle class shrinks, more Americans than ever have been forced to become dependent on the federal government. Federal spending on welfare programs has reached nearly a trillion dollars a year, and that does not even count Social Security or Medicare. Welfare spending is now 16 times larger than when the “war on poverty” began.
#3 Median household income in the U.S. has fallen for four consecutive years. Overall, it has declined by over $4,000 during that time span.
#4 The U.S. economy continues to trade good paying jobs for low paying jobs. 60 percent of the jobs lost during the last recession were mid-wage jobs, but 58 percent of the jobs created since then have been low wage jobs.
#5 The number of Americans living in poverty has increased by more than 15 million since the turn of the century.
#7 Back in the 1970s, about one out of every 50 Americans was on food stamps. Today, about one out of every 6.5 Americans is on food stamps.
#9 In the United States today, 35 percent of all households live on $35,000 or less each year.
#10 One recent survey discovered that 85 percent of all middle class Americans believe that it is harder to maintain a middle class standard of living today than it was 10 years ago.
#11 62 percent of all middle class Americans say that they have had to reduce household spending over the past year.
#12 According to one survey, 77 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.
#14 Total U.S. household debt grew from just 1.4 trillion dollars in 1980 to a whopping 13.7 trillion dollars in 2007. This played a huge role in the financial crisis of 2008, and the problem has still not been solved.
#15 While debt loads for middle class families are going up, the net worth of those same families is going down. According to the Federal Reserve, the median net worth of families in the United States declined “from $126,400 in 2007 to $77,300 in 2010“.
#16 The percentage of working age Americans with a job has been below 59 percent for 40 months in a row.
#17 Today there are about 3.25 million Americans that say that they want a job but that have not searched for a job in more than a year because they believe that it is so hopeless.
#18 When you total up all working age Americans that do not have a job in America today, it comes to more than 100 million.
#20 The unemployment rate for Americans in the 18 to 29 year-old age bracket is 11.5 percent overall. For African-Americans in that age group, the unemployment rate is now up to 22.1 percent. Millions of young people believe that the system has totally failed them.
#21 Families that have a head of household under the age of 30 have a poverty rate of 37 percent.
#22 Last year, an astounding 53 percent of all U.S. college graduates under the age of 25 were either unemployed or underemployed.
#23 Today, approximately 25 million American adults are living with their parents.
#24 According to the Tax Policy Center, the recent fiscal cliff deal will raise taxes more for those making between $30,000 and $200,000 a year than it will for those making between $200,000 and $500,000 a year.
#25 According to a Gallup survey, only 60 percent of all Americans say that they have enough money to live comfortably.
#26 One recent survey found that 63 percent of all Americans believe that the U.S. economic model is broken.
#27 Each year, the average American must work 107 days just to make enough money to pay local, state and federal taxes.
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#28 Consumer debt in America has risen by a whopping 1700 percent since 1971.
#29 There are now 20.2 million Americans that spend more than half of their incomes on housing. That represents a 46 percent increase from 2001.
#31 According to USA Today, many Americans have actually seen their water bills triple over the past 12 years.
#32 Health insurance costs have risen by 23 percent since Barack Obama became president. According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, health care costs accounted for just 9.5% of all personal consumption back in 1980. Today they account for approximately 16.3%.
#34 According to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, 46 percent of all American workers have less than $10,000 saved for retirement, and 29 percent of all American workers have less than $1,000 saved for retirement.
#35 The United States has lost an average of approximately 50,000 manufacturing jobs a month since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.
#36 The United States has lost more than 56,000 manufacturing facilities since 2001.
#37 According to the Economic Policy Institute, America is losing half a million jobs to China every single year.
#41 According to Professor Alan Blinder of Princeton University, 40 million more U.S. jobs could be sent offshore over the next two decades if current trends continue.
#42 According to one study, between 1969 and 2009 the median wages earned by American men between the ages of 30 and 50 declined by 27 percent after you account for inflation.
#43 At this point, one out of every four American workers has a job that pays $10 an hour or less. If that sounds like a high figure, that is because it is. Today, the United States actually has a higher percentage of workers doing low wage work than any other major industrialized nation does.
#44 According to the Pew Research Center, only 23 percent of all American workers believe that they have enough money to get them through retirement.
#45 According to the Economic Policy Institute, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans households on average have 288 times the amount of wealth that the average middle class American family does.
#46 In the United States today, the wealthiest one percent of all Americans have a greater net worth than the bottom 90 percent combined.
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#47 According to Forbes, the 400 wealthiest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans combined.
#48 The six heirs of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton have a net worth that is roughly equal to the bottom 30 percent of all Americans combined.
#49 At this point, the poorest 50 percent of all Americans collectively own just 2.5% of all the wealth in the United States.
#50 The United States now ranks 93rd in the world in income inequality.
#51 The average CEO now makes approximately 350 times as much as the average American worker makes.
#53 Today, 40 percent of all Americans have $500 or less in savings.
#54 One recent survey found that 28 percent of all Americans do not have a single penny saved for emergencies.
#55 Shockingly, at this point 48 percent of all Americans are either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty.
#56 According to one calculation, the number of Americans on food stamps now exceeds the combined populations of “Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.”
#57 According to the U.S. Census Bureau, an all-time record 49 percent of all Americans live in a home where at least one person receives financial assistance from the federal government. Back in 1983, that number was less than 30 percent.
#58 According to U.S. Census data, 57 percent of all American children live in a home that is either considered to be “poor” or “low income”.
#59 For the first time ever, more than a million public school students in the United States are homeless.
#60 According to a stunning new Gallup survey, 65 percent of all Americans believe that 2013 will be a year of “economic difficulty”.
This article first appeared here at the The Truth. Michael Snyder is a writer, speaker and activist who writes and edits his own blogs The American Dream and Economic Collapse Blog. Follow him on Twitter here.