MIDDLE CLASS DECLINING IN MANY METRO AREAS

#MiddleClass #MedianIncome #population
“The widening wealth gap is moving more households into either higher- or lower-income groups in major metro areas, with fewer remaining in the middle.”
So writes Christopher Rugaber of the Associated Press. His article was published in the May 12, 2016, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Rugaber based his article on a Pew Research Center analysis and report. Pew defines the middle class as households with incomes between two-thirds and twice the median income, adjusted for household size and local cost of living, according to Rugaber’s article.
Middle-class adults now make up less than half the population in such cities as New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Houston.
“(The shrinking of the middle class) has increased the polarization of incomes,” Rugaber quotes Rakesh Kochhar, associate research director at Pew and lead author of the report.
Nationally, the proportion of middle class adults shrank to 51 percent in 2014 from 55 percent in 2000, Rugaber quotes the report. Upper-income adults now constitute 20 percent of the population, up from 17 percent. The lower-income share has risen to 29 percent from 28 percent, the article says.
So what happened? People who lost jobs in the Great Recession, if they have found new ones, are now working for less money. The article tells of a Detroit man, age 52, who was earning $28 an hour as a factory worker, but now works for $17 an hour in another company’s shipping department.
That’s pretty close to half of his salary gone.
The good jobs that had been available, whether unionized or not, are disappearing. Make no mistake. Regardless of how you feel about labor unions, they helped build the middle class. As their power wanes, so does the middle class. Many of those who rail against unions today either once belonged to a union, or had a close family member who did. Many today have unions to thank for whatever life they have built or inherited.
Not only have people lost good jobs only to take lesser paying ones, many have lost good benefits. What their good jobs used to pay for, i.e. health insurance, their new jobs probably do not.
So many are making less, and paying more out of pocket for life’s necessities. Fortunately for them, the price of oil has dropped significantly, so they are saving lots at the pump.
It’s easy to look at the downside of a shrinking middle class. But let’s check out the reverse: some people are actually making more than middle-class wages.
That could be the result of one of several things. Some may be getting highly educated, particularly in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Skills in those areas can bring someone a big-paying job.
Still, companies often have to look outside the United States to find people with those skills. Apparently, America is not producing those highly educated people in large numbers.
Some could be boosting their net worth by investing well in the markets. One could start relatively poor, save a little each week out of his meager paycheck, put it away and watch it grow. Then, that person must stay disciplined enough to manage it, but not touch it, until his or her elder years.
Finally, there are ways other than a traditional job that one can earn extra income. For one of the best, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You’ll see people who started in a variety of financial positions – low, middle or high income – and worked part time on something that made them a fortune. There are no guarantees, of course, but a few people saw something special and worked with it.
The lesson here is that to improve one’s financial position, he may have to look for something that may not be readily apparent. Stick with a job, even a lower-paying one, if you must, but always be on the lookout for something better. There are good things out there for those who look for them.
Peter

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