Can you identify with squeeze on middle class?
The Associated Press report atop 1A in today’s Gazette hit home. It tells of a new report by the Pew Research Center that suggests the 50 percent of adults defined as the middle class have suffered eroding household income in the past decade.
Tell me something I don’t know. This puts it in stark terms, however, by saying we’ve suffered through the “worst decade in modern history.” It also says 85 percent of middle class Americans say it’s more difficult to maintain their standard of living than a decade ago.
I can recall back in 2007 telling my wife, Cheryl, “What if this is as good as it gets?” We were enjoying decent health, I reasoned back then, and both of us had good jobs that put us on solid financial ground. We’d paid off our home and property in Muscoda.
Perhaps I sensed the economic calamity approaching. If I’d only realized how bad it would get, we might have changed holdings in our 401k plans—the only retirement funds we really have.
I can’t tell you how much retirement nest egg we’ve lost or how far we’ve come since the economic crash that ensued because we’ve changed investment vehicles twice and poured as much into them as we could to help ease the losses.
Now, Cheryl has retired. To suggest my income has been flat would be overstating the case. Our overall household income is about one-third of the amount it was last year, when Cheryl was still working. Our home in Janesville is less valuable, as well.
We’ll survive, however—I think. Our vehicles are paid off, too, and that helps.
We did, however, get a chuckle out of the Dallas mother of five, a teacher’s assistant, whom we saw on a CBS News report about the struggling middle class Wednesday night.
She told her tale of woe that included filing bankruptcy, but she seemed to be living in a nice home (wasn’t that a fireplace over her shoulder?) and had two vehicles in the driveway, including what looked like a collector’s car.
She didn’t earn any sympathy from us.
Gee, I thought, with all the media rambling around Janesville already, it would have been easy to show someone who truly fell out of the middle class after one of the local factories around here closed.
Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or email@example.com. Or follow him on Twitter or