According to a shocking new study that was just released, 62% of all jobs in the US don't pay enough to support a middle class life. That means that "the American Dream" is truly out of reach for most of the country at this point. Today, Americans are working harder than ever but the cost of living continues to rise much faster than our paychecks are increasing. Earlier this month, I went and looked at the latest numbers from the Social Security Administration and I discovered that 50% of all American workers make less than $30,533 a year. But that's just above poverty level. In fact, the federal poverty level for a family of 5 is currently $29,420. Most families are just barely scraping by from month to month and most US workers are just one major setback away from falling out of the middle class.
It wasn’t always this way. At one time, America had the strongest and most vibrant middle class in the history of the world. But now this latest study has discovered that "it’s only 38% of people who get the middle class life or better"
When wages are weighed against the cost of living in the largest 204 metropolitan regions across the nation, 62% of jobs don’t pay enough for a dual-income household with children to meet the definition of ‘middle class,’ according to a new ‘Opportunity Index‘ developed by Third Way, a Washington DC-based think tank.
‘We were shocked to find out it’s only 38% of people who get the middle class life or better,’ said Ryan Bhandari, a policy advisor for Third Way, in an interview with DailyMail.com.
It's no wonder why so many people are shopping at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Tree these days. For many Americans, those are the literally the only places they can afford to shop.
When I was growing up, it seemed like literally everyone else around me was "middle class", but now those days are long gone. Here's a breakdown of some more of the numbers from this latest study:
30% of jobs are "hardship jobs," meaning they don’t allow a single adult to make ends meet.
32% are "living wage" jobs, enough to get by but not to take vacations, save for retirement or live in a moderately priced home.
23% are middle-class jobs, allowing for dining out, modest vacations and putting some money away for retirement.
15% are "professional jobs," paving the way for a more comfortable life that includes more elaborate vacations and entertainment and a more expensive home.
It sure must be nice to be in that top 15%.
For example, a worker in San Francisco – one of the most expensive housing markets in the country – must make a minimum of $82,142 to achieve a middle class lifestyle.
By comparison, workers in Cedar Rapids, Iowa can achieve middle class status in a job paying $40,046 or more per year.
So many of us have run ourselves ragged doing the things that we were "supposed" to do and we assumed that a middle class life would be the reward at the end of the trail.
Unfortunately, that reward has never materialized for millions of hard working Americans. USA Today profiled one of those deeply frustrated workers in a recent article
Esther Akutekha, who lives in Brooklyn, New York, has a good job as a public relations specialist that pays over $50,000 a year.
But because of the $1,440 a month rent on her studio apartment in the Prospect-Lefferts Gardens neighborhood, she never takes vacations, dines out just once a month and scrapes together dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.
Can you identify with Esther? I sure can.
It can be soul crushing to work as hard as you can only to realize that your goals are now farther away than ever. At this point, Esther isn't even sure that she'll ever be able to afford to have kids
"I’m frustrated with the fact that I’m not going to be able to save anything because my rent's so high," says Akutekha, who says she’s 30ish. "I don’t even know if I can afford" to have kids.
We've been told that the economy has been "booming" in recent years, but the truth's that it's only been booming for people at the very top of the pyramid.
For most Americans it's as if the last recession never ended and things just seem to keep getting worse
"There’s an opportunity crisis in the country," says Jim Kessler, vice president of policy for Third Way and editor of the report. "It explains some of the economic uneasiness and, frankly, the political uneasiness" even amid the most robust US economy and labor market since before the Great Recession of 2007-2009. But is the economy robust? Or are we being fed a line by the mainstream media? The middle class isn't thriving and increased regulations and higher taxes make it difficult for people to branch out on their own and create their own business.
We definitely need to make it much, much easier for people to start small businesses and this is something that I have written about extensively. Small business creation has traditionally been one of the primary vehicles for upward mobility in our nation, but right now the rate of small business creation's hovering near all-time lows. We desperately need to get that turned around if we ever want to have any hope of restoring vitality to our middle class.
If we continue on the path that we're on, we're going to continue to get the same results. Tonight, over half a million Americans are homeless and the ranks of the poor are growing with each passing day.
America needs a strong middle class, but currently our middle class is disintegrating at a startling pace.
If we're not able to reverse this trend, what's the future going to look like for our society?