Patt Morrison for August 23, 2012

Death of the American Dream? The middle class is smaller, poorer, and gloomier

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Members of the Dolan family walk home with bags of food from the Food Bank of the Southern Tier Mobile Food Pantry in Oswego, N.Y., in June. Food banks across the nation are reporting giant spikes in demand.

The middle class has long been the cornerstone of the American lifestyle, but a new report issued by Pew Research Center shows a decline not only in size, but in income and wealth of the middle class. The middle class now accounts for 51 percent of all adults, down 10 percent since 1971. What’s more, based on the public opinion survey conducted by Pew for the report, the middle class also has less faith in the future. Eighty five percent of those middle-class Americans polled said it was harder now than it was a decade ago to maintain a middle-class lifestyle. And when asked who to blame, a large percentage pointed to Congress, banks, and large corporations, but only eight percent said “a lot” of the blame should be pointed at the middle class itself.

WEIGH IN:

If the middle class is steadily declining now, will the trend continue into the future? And the as size, wealth, and faith of the middle class shrinks, what could this mean for the presidential candidates and the 2012 election itself?

Guests:

Rich Morin, Senior Editor, Pew Research Center; co-author of the social and demographic trends report, “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class”

Scott Winship, Fellow, Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution’s Center on Children and Families


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