The Collapse of the Middle Class


Senator Bernie Sanders
April 14, 2008

The American middle class is collapsing. Hundreds of people from Vermont and across America have emailed Senator Bernie Sanders to tell him about their personal experiences as they struggle to make ends meet. So that other senators can hear the real stories of real Americans, he read some of the emails on the Senate floor. There also was news on Thursday that it’s not just the recession that is hurting families. Even the good times weren’t so good for the American middle class.

Median family income actually fell during the last economic expansion, according to a New York Times analysis of Census Bureau numbers adjusted for inflation. In 2000, the median American family made about $61,000. Last year, at the end of seven years of the overall economic expansion, “the median family, amazingly, seems to have made less — about $60,500,” according to the report in Thursday’s paper. “More than anything else — more than even the war in Iraq — the stagnation of the great American middle-class machine explains the glum national mood today,” David Leonhardt wrote in the Times.

Meanwhile, the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that Americans have grown steadily more negative about the national economy over the past three months. “Just 11 percent of the public rates the economy as excellent or good, down from 17 percent in early February, and 26 percent in January,” the center found. “Judgments about the national economy are now as negative as they were during the recession of the early 1990s.”

To listen to the senator on the floor of the Senate reading these missives, click here.

To read emails to the senator about the economy, click here.

To read the article in the Times, click here.

To read more about the Pew poll, click here.

To take our poll on the economy, click here.

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