The US middle class is poorer today than it was in 1989
The economy has gotten bigger, but much of that growth hasn't reached the middle class. Indeed, the top 1 percent grabbed 95 percent of all the gains during the recovery's first three years. And that's not even the most depressing part. Even adjusted for household size, real median incomes haven't increased at all since 1999. That's right: the middle class hasn't gotten a raise in 15 years.
But one of the biggest, and least appreciated reasons Democrats might be struggling, is that the middle class is poorer, too. Median net worth is actually lower, adjusted for inflation, than it was in 1989. Even worse, it's kept falling during the recovery. Yes, even after the economy started to grow again, and the stock market started to boom, and housing prices began to bounce back, the median net worth of the average American household continued to decline.
It's no surprise, then, that people are still so gloomy about the economy. The recovery just hasn't been much of one, if at all, for most of them. Middle class wages are flat, and their wealth is still falling. At least during the bubble years, rising home prices gave people access to credit that helped mask their stagnant wages. But no more. Home equity lines of credit are down almost 25 percent from their peak, and are still declining. The middle class, in other words, can't borrow from the future to pretend that the economy is working for them today.
Sarmad, your thoughts?