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The U.S. middle class is shrinking at an alarming rate and if inflation keeps soaring while wages stagnate, soon we won’t have much of a “middle class” at all. For decades, economists have been writing about the millions of “working poor” Americans that have gone through so many financial difficulties. But now, most of the nation is seemingly falling into the “working poor” category. Even though wages have been going up little by little with each passing year, the rise wasn’t enough to cover all basic living expenses. All over the U.S., the cost of living has been absolutely soaring. But it is safe to say that paychecks haven’t similarly soared, and wages have been struggling to keep up with rampant inflation, and this has been gutting the middle class. Now, the vast majority of our society is in constant “survival mode” financially, and there’s no end in sight for this situation.
According to data just released by the Social Security Administration, the final wage statistics for 2020 were extremely alarming. Nationwide, 50 percent of all workers had “net compensation less than or equal to the median wage, which is estimated to be $34,612.04 for 2020,” which means that half of our entire population has lived with less than $3,000 a month over that past year, and that is without adding taxes to that equation. Living with that kind of income in any major U.S. city is not easy, especially in today’s economic environment. These days, the median wage can cover expenses needed for your survival, but that’s pretty much it. Decades ago, this same amount would be more than enough to live nicely because the cost of living used to be much lower. Back in the 60s, you would be able to buy a lovely home in a middle-class neighborhood having that income. But today, you probably wouldn’t be able to make a down payment on a one-bedroom apartment with that money.
As the price of everything will jump by several hundred percent – or much, much more – over the next decade, this means that pre-outbreak prices are gone forever. So your savings, investments, retirement, purchasing power, and the quality of life that you’ve spent a lifetime planning and working for will be shredded. In contrast, we have millions of jobs now available in the U.S. But why no one applies for them? Because people know they will pay “working poor” wages, which means they will not be able to afford housing, groceries, and other basic expenses having that income, especially if they have kids.
Just as economists have been warning over the years, more and more of our population is living paycheck to paycheck. And when people are in that position, it only takes one bad break to push them right into financial distress. Unfortunately, conditions are going to get even worse for ordinary Americans in the coming months because inflation continues to soar dramatically. Many experts argue that real inflation is in double-digit territory, somewhere between 11 and 14 percent compared to the same period last year. The official numbers actually greatly understate what we are facing at the stores. It seems like the sort of inflation Americans faced during the Jimmy Carter era is here again.
Sadly, our politicians don’t seem to care about this issue, and their recent policies and restrictions are only speeding up the demise of the middle class. Vaccine mandates are pushing more and more Americans out of decent-paying jobs and they are also creating critical staff shortages. For instance, a local report described that at a hospital in Lewiston, Maine, where the vaccination policy demanding all employees to take the vaccine was enacted last week, more than 250 employees refused to comply and all of these employees were subsequently fired. And the same scenario is playing out in several industries all over the country right now. If the government fails to look after its people, the people will simply not trust the government. That is to say, the more the new administration forces people to get the vaccine, the more people will be inclined to refuse it, even if that decision may cost their jobs.
Let’s just hope that we don’t have to face yet another wave of virus cases this winter because our healthcare system is critically understaffed and it would become overwhelmed very rapidly. These are incredibly ominous times for our economy, our workers, and our nation as a whole. The outlook for the months ahead includes more inflation, more shortages, and definitely more questionable decisions made by our leaders. Events are truly starting to spin out of control, and America will never return to ‘normal’. It is time to face that things will never be the same ever again.