Middle-class Americans, once considered to be the bedrock of the country’s thriving economy, are becoming a dying breed as wealth distribution is increasingly split by the ultra-rich and everybody else. And people in factory towns are being hurt the worst.
The middle class has retreated in nine out of 10 U.S. metropolitan areas since 2000, as income inequality widened after the recession, CBS News says on its website, citing a report from the Pew Research Center.
“The report expands the organization’s research into the fortunes of the country’s middle class, which Pew in December found had declined to less than 50 percent of households, representing a major shift in America’s economic fabric,” CBS reports.
The “hollowing out” of America’s economy has become a major campaign issue for politicians across the ideological spectrum and partly explains the popularity of “outsider” presidential candidates like Republican front-runner Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent seeking the Democratic nomination.
Pew defines the middle class as households with annual income between two-thirds to double the national median — that’s about $42,000 on the low end to $125,000 at the upper limit for a family of three. The portion of Americans living in middle-income households fell from 55 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2014.
“Many of the biggest losers have a common thread: ties to manufacturing, which has been hard-hit in the last decade,” CBS reports. “The Rust Belt city of Springfield, Ohio, saw a 16 percent decline in economic status, tying it with Goldsboro, North Carolina, the home to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, as the biggest losers of economic status.“
After China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the decline of U.S. factory production accelerated as companies moved operations overseas.” Read the rest.
The GatewayPundit points out “Trump supporters also understand how free trade has destroyed US manufacturing jobs.”
Trump supporters also are far more negative about the effects of free trade agreements than are non-Trump supporters. Two-thirds of Trump supporters (67%) say free trade agreements have been bad for the country, and 60% say they have definitely or probably hurt their own finances.