America’s hollow middle class
The cost of living has risen, wages have not, and debt just keeps on accumulating.
By Anne Helen Petersen
Delia did everything right. She went to college, she got a teaching degree, she found a reliable job, and she got married. She and her husband had two kids. “We followed the traditional path to middle class and economic security,” she told me. “Or so I thought.” … We’ve been normalizing low savings rates at the same time that we’ve become more and more comfortable taking on consumer debt — a symptom, as financial analyst Karen Petrou put it, of “deep economic malaise.” In the early ’80s, the income-to-debt ratio hovered between 0.55 and 0.65, which meant that a household’s overall debt level amounted to between 55 percent and 65 percent of their income after taxes.