The Middle-Class Struggle Is Real, and It’s Getting Harder


People often say being the middle child is hard. Well, according to most Americans, it also is getting hard to be in the middle class. 

While a whopping 88% of Americans view themselves as being in the middle class, 80% say it is harder being in the middle class today than it was just 25 years ago.

“The American middle class is not weakened or weakening—it is weak,” said Patrick Inglis, an assistant professor of sociology at Grinnell College. “Even the idea of it is weak. The middle class no longer can rely on the kind of job security that was available to earlier generations.”

According to a study put out by credit solution site Elevate, the concerns of the middle class likely reflect financial challenges that emerged after the “Great Recession,” such as declining household income and reduced savings. In fact, 35% of Americans across all income levels reported having financial difficulties within the last six months.

“Wages have not kept pace with the rising cost of living, for one thing,” Inglis said. “Health costs are rising, too, same with education. These are necessities, not luxuries.”

Inglis said the majority of the middle class is just struggling to make ends meet with their salaries, and when that’s not enough, they borrow more money, which only compounds the problem.

“As good, decent-paying jobs with benefits and pensions disappeared, banking and finance have taken on larger roles in the economy and in people’s lives, generally,” he said.

Ken Rees, CEO of Elevate, said the challenges presented by wage stagnation and income volatility mean that today’s new middle class is characterized by more sporadic and immediate financial needs than the middle class of years past.

“Today, it is not uncommon for those at both the higher and lower ends of the spectrum to run into financial stress that can have a real impact on their ability to meet financial responsibilities,” Rees said.

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Source: MainStreet | Chris Metinko