The middle-class squeeze has produced a retail squeeze. Stagnant wages and increasing costs are not just hurting the nation’s middle class; their effects have now spilled over and are damaging the retail sector as well.
A recent Center for American Progress report showed that the median married couple with two kids in the United States made the same in 2012 as they did in 2000 after adjusting for overall inflation, but the growing cost of basic middle-class security—education, health, housing, and retirement—left the family with $5,500 less to spend on other needs. The Wall Street Journal similarly reported that slow income growth combined with the growing cost of middle-class security has reduced American spending in the middle 60 percent of the income distribution on clothing, furniture, appliances, and other consumer goods—even before adjusting for inflation.
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