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Old Yesterday, 09:08 AM
 
18 posts, read 1,628 times
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There has been a flurry of stories recently in the news talking about how much the middle class has been struggling financially. As a person who has closely watched economics and personal finance stories in the news for over 40 years, I have to say I don't remember a year in my lifetime where the middle class did not struggle financially. It seemed like every year there was a story in the news about how the middle class is struggling.

The articles that are being written today seem to be saying that middle-class people have it harder TODAY than in the past. It is easier to make that blanket statement, but harder to back it up. Was there a date(s) in the last 60 years where middle-income people had it easier and could live a 2019 version of the middle-class lifestyle without watching their budget and getting into debt? What year in our history did the middle class have the highest standard of living?

If things are so great today economically, why is there an uptick this year in the media stories about middle-class struggles?

Last edited by notch on my belt; Yesterday at 09:21 AM..
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Old Yesterday, 09:10 AM
 
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none in my lifetime and i am 67. life was always a struggle to stay ahead of the curve .

got dumped out of school in the 1970's in to vietnam , double digit inflation , race riots , the highest unemployment since the great depression , the gas shortage , and the city i lived in nyc going bankrupt ..
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Old Yesterday, 09:18 AM
 
821 posts, read 185,472 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notch on my belt View Post
What year in our history did the middle class have the highest standard of living?
2019. Now. Today. It doesn't get any easy or better than it is now. Stock Market at record highs, interest rates at some of the lowest rates ever. Unemployment rock bottom. Your home's value at a record high. Automobile reliability at all time high. MPG at all time high. Ditch diggers with video phones in their pockets. Home building continues at record pace because people DEMAND more houses.
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Old Yesterday, 09:31 AM
 
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Today's "middle class lifestyle" with 2 SUV's, 2,000 square foot house, big screen TVs, cell phone costing $700 in the hands of every adult and child...is not yesterday's "middle class lifestyle".

So, obviously, today's middle class have the highest standard of living.
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Old Yesterday, 09:32 AM
 
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we can't even define a middle class lifestyle anymore
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Old Yesterday, 09:38 AM
 
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If things are so great today economically, why is there an uptick this year in the media stories about middle-class struggles?

To answer my own question I think that it is due to easy credit. People have access to so many things and experiences in our economy and they want to bite the apple and will go into debt to get that golden apple. They feel they deserve that long weekend in a fancy Las Vegas casino hotel with their friends and the $100 show. 30 years ago before easy credit, most people never even thought of doing something they could not afford because they were broke and had no credit cards.
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Old Yesterday, 09:45 AM
 
Location: Massachusetts
9,752 posts, read 10,486,994 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notch on my belt View Post
If things are so great today economically, why is there an uptick this year in the media stories about middle-class struggles?
Because it sells and generates traffic for the media source?
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Old Yesterday, 09:47 AM
 
12,423 posts, read 18,512,844 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notch on my belt View Post
If things are so great today economically, why is there an uptick this year in the media stories about middle-class struggles?

To answer my own question I think that it is due to easy credit. People have access to so many things and experiences in our economy and they want to bite the apple and will go into debt to get that golden apple. They feel they deserve that long weekend in a fancy Las Vegas casino hotel with their friends and the $100 show. 30 years ago before easy credit, most people never even thought of doing something they could not afford because they were broke and had no credit cards.
Also, I mean, the media isn't going to do a news story on how the middle class is doing great are they. That doesn't sell news or generate clicks for web stories. People don't really care about good news, they want to read about bad news. There is also an obvious political bias and "good economic news" doesn't fit their agenda.
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Old Yesterday, 10:27 AM
 
Location: East of Seattle since 1992, originally from SF Bay Area
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Much of the news is about the high cost of homes in some areas and how people cannot afford to buy. My wife and I wanted to buy our first home 2 years after getting married, in 1976. We had been saving for the down payment, but when we had the 10% down the prices had gone up and we were short. This was in the east Bay Area (Castro Valley, CA). It was not until 1978 that I got a good promotion and was able to buy a small, older fixer. Our interest rate was 7%, and that was after my wife's 1% discount for working at the bank. I remember the payment with tax and insurance was $369/month, but I only made about $15,000, my wife about half that. Both cars were paid off then, and we had graduated in 1974 and 1975 with no student loans, both going to a state college and working while in college.


We also remember the 1990 recession. We were trying to sell our 2nd house then, and had to keep dropping the price. We started at $270,000 and ended up selling it in 1992 for just $190,000.
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Old Yesterday, 10:37 AM
 
6,894 posts, read 1,461,416 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by notch on my belt View Post
Was there a date(s) in the last 60 years where middle-income people had it easier and could live a 2019 version of the middle-class lifestyle without watching their budget and getting into debt?
I think that is a flawed question. People, unless they are in the multi millionaire class, do have to watch their budgets, and very few people can afford to buy their first home without a mortgage. (And I suppose that even most very wealthy people must consider whether they can really afford more than one mansion with staff, more than one yacht, and more than a dozen or so 17th century paintings or other expensive antiques.)

A better question would be, "Was there ever a time where people could have a middle-class income and lifestyle so long as they did not spend extravagantly and foolishly?" -- and the answer to that is YES, and I think it still holds true today IF two people are in a marriage or long-term relationship and both have at least middle-income jobs. However, of course, that is much more difficult if they have children still living at home!!

But as far as two people being able to live comfortably, have one to three children, and have a middle class lifestyle on ONE middle-income type of job -- well, that went out with the 60's, I think, and I think that is very sad.

P.S. And, of course, it would also depend on one's definition of "middle class lifestyle". For some, that would necessarily include two newer cars, a newer home, Smartphones, a nice vacation every year, etc. -- but the home, cars, and vacations could be scaled down and one could still have a middle-class lifestyle.

Last edited by katharsis; Yesterday at 11:42 AM..
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