Is The American Middle Class Disappearing?

-By Warner Todd Huston

Michael T. Snyder has a disheartening piece in the New York Post today that lays out 25 statistics that shows that the American middle class is dying. Snyder tells us his statistics “prove that the middle class is being systematically wiped out of existence in America.” Further he says, “the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer at a staggering rate.”

Snyder’s main point is that increasing government regulations on business is making it more and more expensive to employ people and that, in turn, is causing middle income jobs to disappear.

This echos the recent post I made where economics professor Richard Timberlake said that this current recession was made by overweening government regulations not by a failure of the market.

Among Snyder’s stats are these:

  • 61% of Americans “always or usually” live paycheck to paycheck, which was up from 49% in 2008 and 43% in 2007
  • Only the top 5% of households have earned enough additional income to match the rise in housing costs since 1975
  • A staggering 43% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved up for retirement
  • For the first time in US history, banks own a greater share of residential housing net worth in the United States than all individual Americans put together
  • 66% of the income growth between 2001 and 2007 went to the top 1% of all Americans

Joel Kotkin seems to concur with some of this doomsaying. In his piece in the Dallas Morning News, Kotkin says:

Most disturbingly, the rate of upward mobility has stagnated overall, as wages have largely failed to keep up with the cost of living. It is no easier for poor and working-class people to move up the socio-economic ladder today than it was in the 1970s; in some ways, it’s more difficult. The income of college-educated younger people, adjusted for inflation, has been in decline since 2000.

This is bad stuff, folks. This means that the America dream is slipping away from most Americans. And if that happens then America itself has slipped away from us. We need to start slashing the power and reach of government at every level before its too late.

Leave a comment