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The Conservative View - The shrinking middle class

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STILWELL, Okla. -- It is amazing the places we can get inspiration from; being a devotee of science-fiction movies, one of my favorites was The Incredible Shrinking Man.

In the movie the main character was exposed to a substance that caused him to shrink in size. As he grew smaller more and more things in our everyday life became more dangerous. In the movie simple things like cats and spiders became deadly to the shrinking man. One of the things that helped make our country strong and prosperous was a healthy and robust middle class.

Recently I read an article that put some light on the state of the American middle class.

Too many people make the mistake of thinking the economy is doing just fine because the stock market is trading at all time highs. Throughout the world stock markets seem to have no limits. Bond markets are at all-time highs. Real estate is at all-time highs. For the people that do have some assets, they are sitting much better than the lower middle class.

Here in the United States,   for example, it seems quite strange that the stock market is near its ALL-TIME HIGH while the overall economy has been sluggish for years. Annual GDP growth for the United States in 2016 was a measly 1.6 percent, a rate that barely keeps up with population. With GDP growth that low, it has a huge effect on employment and wages.

Often we hear politicians claim that our unemployment rate is at a ten year low, but when you look a little deeper the percentage of Americans in their prime work years (between the ages of 25 and 54) who actually have jobs is still way below the level prior to the 2008 Great Recession. Wage growth has also been stagnant, and coupled with increasing debts such as student debt, consumer debt and auto loans, many people are having a hard time paying their obligations.

In the most recent annual report from Bank of America in 2016, it shows that the bank has $592 billion in consumer deposits from 46 million households.  That works out to be an average of $12,870 per HOUSEHOLD, not per person. In the 1997 Bank of America’s annual report, it showed the bank had $392 billion in deposits from 30 million households. That worked out to be $13,067 per household… in 1997.

Over the past 20 years the average household has less money and that is not ever factoring in for inflation. One example would be the cost of an auto, think how much less a car would cost you 20 years ago.

These numbers show a trend; throughout history a strong middle class is essential for economic prosperity. If this trend continues we in the middle class will face more dangers from every corner, like the shrinking man in the movie.

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About the Author

Russell Turner
Russell Turner was born in Tahlequah Oklahoma and has lived his entire life in rural Adair...
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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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