NEW REPORT: America’s Middle Class Still Losing Ground

By Christian E. Weller, Amanda Logan

SENIOR FELLOW CHRISTIAN E. WELLER TALKS ABOUT THE REPORT HERE.

READ FULL REPORT HERE.

WASHINGTON – The Center for American Progress released a new report today, “America’s Middle Class Still Losing Ground,” detailing the deteriorating financial health and well-being of the American middle class. The report describes the public’s clear awareness of the problem and points out a variety of progressive policy alternatives to help restore middle-class vitality and with it, U.S. economic vigor. The report finds that rising middle-class financial insecurity is the result of several factors including falling incomes, rising prices for necessary items and the decimation of personal wealth.

The trends since 1989, the first year for which we have data, showed an increase in middle-class security through the 1990s. After 2000, however, the situation deteriorated very quickly—all of the gains in middle-class economic security were erased within a few years. The new data underscore that:

  • The sharpest deterioration in middle-class financial security is associated with the cost of a medical emergency. We estimate that only 33.9 percent of families had enough wealth in 2007 to cover the cost of a medical emergency, down from 35.0 percent in 2005 and 43.7 percent in 2000 (See table on page 3). This deterioration comes as a result of less wealth and higher costs of medical emergencies.
  • Drops in personal wealth have contributed to the decline in middle-class financial security. Because house prices started to fall and debt continued to rise in 2007, we also observed the share of families who could weather an unspecified emergency equal to three months of income decrease to 29.4 percent in 2007, from 30.5 percent in 2005 and 39.4 percent in 2000.
  • The share of families who had enough resources to cover a spell of unemployment has declined since 2000. In 2007, 44.1 percent of families had enough wealth to cover a spell of unemployment, little changed from 44.0 percent in 2005 but still down from 51.0 percent in 2000. Unfortunately, the 2007 data likely reflect only a temporary respite from decline since the labor market has substantially deteriorated in 2008, beyond the time of series data presented here.

For more information please contact John Neurohr at .

SENIOR FELLOW CHRISTIAN WELLER TALKS ABOUT THE REPORT HERE.

READ FULL REPORT HERE.

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The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is "of the people, by the people, and for the people."