American Morning

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June 5th, 2009
06:17 AM ET

Is the middle class dead?

From CNN's Carol Costello and Ronni Berke

Danny Borden has been a steelworker in Cleveland, Ohio, for the past 32 years. But last month, he was laid off from his job at the Arcelor Mittal plant. It wasn’t the first time he was furloughed. This time, he has a feeling he won't be going back to work.

“Angry?” he asks. “I'm very angry, you know, but I just can't let the anger get to me.” Along with his job, Borden lost his his way of life – the daily freeway drive, the banter with co-workers he’s known for decades, and of course, his economic status.

“I don't see no middle class. Is there a middle class now? I don't see it,” Borden says. “I see myself as fortunate, but I really don't see myself as middle class.”

Is Borden right? Is the middle class extinct?

“What you have is real fear,” says Paul Sracic, head of the Political Science Department at Youngstown State University. “You’re in a point of transition. The manufacturing jobs that have traditionally been here and been available to people, everyone knows they’re not going to be there anymore. I think people would be a bit more secure though if they had some confidence that something was going to be there to replace it.”

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 1980, 21-percent of the nation's jobs were in manufacturing - the bulk of good-paying middle class jobs. Today, just 9-percent of jobs are in manufacturing. As some economists say, that puts the middle class in a massive economic black hole.

Lawrence Mishel of the Economic Policy Institute, says, “we have to start creating jobs and we have to work on creating good jobs for people so they can start earning good family paychecks and increase their consumption based on that.”

But, Borden doesn't see that happening in Cleveland. He says it will be hard for a fellow coming out of high school these days to find a job that would enable him to buy a car, a home and raise two college-bound kids.

“I hear everybody talk about jobs but where are they at? Because they're not up here, so I don't know where they would go,” Borden says.

He’s been hearing about "green jobs" replacing manufacturing jobs one day. But, those jobs pay around 12 bucks an hour-60 per cent less than what someone like Borden would make in the plant. It may be too late, he adds.

“The blue collar jobs are gone, and they’re gone overseas. And we’re giving the people that take the jobs overseas, we’re giving them tax breaks and all kinds of money to ruin America. That’s the way I look at it, so we’re rewarding everybody for taking American jobs away.”


Filed under: Just Sayin'
soundoff (90 Responses)
  1. sharon

    Where the heck is the Barack Obama we voted for ?

    June 18, 2009 at 7:52 am |
  2. shel

    You dang right, the middle class, practically doesnt exist anymore, maybe it does in China or overseas where alot of our well paying self sustaining jobs have been sent too. I see it as treason, the goverment is committing an act of betrayal against it's own citizens, by allowing this to happen. So how does a self respecting goverment come up with $$billions of dollars quickly for these selfish companies to stay afloat just to have them lay off workers and close up anyway, but yet this same goverment has 1,000 of citizens dying without health care, starving without food, homless without homes, etc. I know how they do it, they put the blinders on and they dont give a hoot- and neither does the big shots that have live comfortably off the sweat and blood of the hard working middle class.
    We have a new type of "refugee" right here, it's the unemployed!
    Maybe if we set up enough enemployed refugee camps here in the good ole USA( lets start with the park across from the white house) we can get some help! the same way they quickly help other people who have been abandoned by their country. I wouldnt mind if they fly over my house and drop a 5lb bag of rice, some water and some bug repellant, they can also drop my mortgage payment out the plane too, cuase I sure can use it.
    Get your tents ready people, it's coming to that sooner than we think.

    June 8, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  3. Marianne from Phila

    There is no value for the average American worker. I am a Registered Nurse with a BSN. I work for a Catholic Hospital in Phila. My employer treats me like a second class citizen. The retirement benefits are non existant, my hours are cut depending upon census, management lacks necessary experience in safe treatment of patients but is willing to tow the company line. Wages are stagnant; workload keeps increasing. So goes America. Be afraid to get sick!

    June 8, 2009 at 8:10 am |
  4. Terrie

    These comments are sad. We as Americans are watching daily the down fall of our way of life. Everywhere you look people are troubled, worried, and scared to say the least. I sat today and listened to Obamas speech overseas and, yes the speech did sound good. But I am wondering, why are we sinking so much money into these countries governments when we literally have people starving here at home. We have hardworking men and wemon standing in unemployment lines,welfare lines and every other line you can think of for help. Why are American jobs going to these countries? Why are the less fortunate still being taking advantage of, when it comes to any kind of paycuts etc.? The average house aides got a 17% bonus, not to mention the House and their staff bonuses or the pay raises, and yet I am watching coal miners, steel plant workers, truck drivers, teachers, on and on have to take pay cuts and layoffs.....

    June 6, 2009 at 11:30 pm |
  5. Mark

    The $12/hr "green job" would only be 14% under the Cleveland average household income and is more than twice the national poverty level. According to the figures listed, at 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, average manufacturers like Danny would have been making $62,400.00. Instead of titling this, "I don't see no middle class" it should be titled, "welcome back to the middle class." Boohoo.

    June 6, 2009 at 9:01 pm |
  6. Didi

    If you want to force manufacturing here in America then refuse to buy non-American made products. I know that's hard, but buy ONLY what you have to have, and soon they'll get the message. As for an education, there are a lot of educated people waiting tables. An education helps but it is no guarantee. Was looking at accounting jobs the other day and companies looking to hire an accountant with master's degree and at least 5 years experience for 35,000. That is about what a new bacholers college grad would make a year of so ago. Employers know it's their market and wages are going down; jobs are leaving this country. Washington sucks. Bush wounded the economy and Obama is delivering the final blow. Oh, and lets not forget the American people. Too many couldn't be bothered to vote in elections, call their elected officials when they vote against our best interests, or realize money isn't free when they promised something for nothing. Government won't save us; only we can save our selves.

    June 6, 2009 at 1:17 am |
  7. America Shrugged again

    @ leanne garretson, Obama has done nothing to the coal mining industry, so take your frustrations out on something else. Your email descended into something other than dissatisfaction with the deterioration of the working class in this country. I'll let you figure out what that is. That being said, everyone's hero Ronnie Reagan said it in the 80's, we will no longer be super manufacturing nation but will become the nation of technology and services industry. He was trying to tell you and your husband to go and get educated and learn a new skill. No one can hold you back, only you can hold yourself back as long as you are telling yourself the story that it's someone else's fault. You are probably one of those fools who voted GOP every 4 yrs thinking they were going to save this country from mean nasty gun hating abortion loving libruls while in fact they were counting on your vote to get rid of unions and continue to protect corporations. Good luck to you and your husband.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm |
  8. Ed Owens

    I would feel sorry for the so called middle class if they hadn't taken their piece of the pie and stood around while those who weren't so lucky (48 million without healthcare), got nothing. A good portion of that middle class keeps voting for the same people who work for the wealthy. The only time a politician cares about the so called middle class is when its time to get some votes and they have a demo- graphic full of people who are easily swayed by tax cuts and hand outs here in there while the entire time the people the politicians really care about (the wealthy) were just waiting to pull the trigger on the next scheme to crash the DOW and use it as an excuse to vaporize the numbers in the computer that represented the middle class pensions except the sheep were too stupid to realize that the money was never there, The fees and percentages were all scraped out of the real money that was put in, and the thieves walk away scott free and then just to show you what real power is they borrowed your children's future taxes from the chinese and gave that to the thieves too and stuck that in your face and there isn't a damn thing you are going to do about it. That's why you are broke and they are wealthy.

    Middle Class is a phrase made up by the wealthy and their paid lackeys ( I say lackeys while i really mean the vulgar term for prostitutes) in the Whitehouse and Congress. The term is meant to mollify the people into thinking they were better than the poor slob working for minimum wage. Now the people the politicians really work for have that pension in their offshore account and you get to go on welfare like everyone else. And guess who is going to be giving you your spongebath in the old folks home your kids are going to put you in so they can have what little is left of your estate before you use it up paying to keep yourself alive after retirement at 80? If it isn't some minimum wage slob its going to be some illegal immigrant earning half minimum wage.

    They won't be very sympathetic either. Enjoy the world you created for yourselves. You deserve it.

    June 5, 2009 at 8:07 pm |
  9. Jason

    Just because you live in a US state does not mean that your state has a good business environment. Come to Texas. There are lots of jobs here. Once a true recovery starts there will be even more jobs here.

    I know that it is hard to move, but I did and will never look back.

    June 5, 2009 at 7:57 pm |
  10. riem

    haha, are you nuts, or something, "Leanne Garretson"? I hate it when uninformed, ignorant people spew nonsense as if it were stone fact.
    Obama is not a Muslim. Never has been. Self-identifies as Christian, not that that matters.
    He didn't make this mess, W. did.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
  11. P Van Osta

    And blue collar workers make a decent living in Europe, but nowhere near what they can make in this country.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  12. P Van Osta

    And to L-Bear: I didn't say things were better in Europe (if they were, why would I live here, right?). They are different.
    In some ways, they are more advanced. In others, they are more backward. Different choices were made, historically, which yielded different results.

    There is no better or worse, just different.
    Would I like to see universal healthcare and free college education in this country? Absolutely. Both your healthcare system and your educational system are a disgrace for a country with this much money.

    But the way these things are implemented in Europe, is far from perfect as well.

    June 5, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  13. P Van Osta

    In all fairness, railing at coal mining jobs disappearing is a losing battle.
    Coal is a dead industry. As a fuel or source of electricity, it is dirtier than any other source out there.
    200 years ago, peat farmers made a good living because burning peat was what fueled the vast majority of households in the cities.

    Since then we moved on. Peat farmers were not happy, but were forced to adapt.
    Coal miners are no different. In Europe, coal mines all across the western European countries have closed down gradually, ever since the middle of the last century.

    Shall we hold on to an obsolete and polluting industry just so people can collect a pay check? That sounds like socialism to me. That's what they did in the Soviet Union and we all know what happened to them...

    Unfortunately, you do yourself no service by dragging the old 'Obama is a muslim' cliche out to bolstyer your argument.

    And to the gentleman sarcastically asking whether we stopped using steel: no we have not stopped using it. We have just stopped producing it because we can't do it cost-effectively 🙂

    June 5, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  14. L-Bear

    Once again, the white collar boys are hating on and betraying their blue collar brethern. I know they voted against their interest with Reagan and others, but let's give them something to vote for, not against. Yes, their wages were may be to high, but they have been pushed back. Heck, the UAW for GM may have just given up their pension fund to make big lender, in a bunkruptcy, whole ! That's fair ? It's also supposed to protected.

    I am still waiting to find out about the crummy wages they pay to blue collar workers in Europe in Canada. May be it did not get as out of control as in the US but they are still good wages in manufacturing.

    June 5, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  15. Leanne Garretson

    I agree 100%, my husband is a coal miner and thanks to Obama (I refuse to refer to him as President) his and many other miners' wages have been cut, along with hours. I am a nursing student in school full-time, and my husband is the primary "bread-winner", have lost $1200 a month and looks to be even more as long as Obama is running all over this nation trying to "play" president. My husband works hard every day and slowly Obama is making sure that he shuts the coal industry down, he does not care about Americans his concern is with the Muslims, (his heritage)! We are no longer middle class we a poor people, we used to live quite comfortably under other presidents except for Obama, I despise the man and blame him for the economy, he makes me so angry and I will speak out against him until the Muslims come to this nation and "shut" us up with the help of Obama, so if my kids can't go to college, THANK YOU OBAMA, this was made into a black and white issue, oh no, this is pure Muslims against Americans,,,,and I am American until the day I die, a poor American but still an American living under Muslim reign......

    June 5, 2009 at 1:14 pm |
  16. R. Warren Ross

    It won't necessarily put any blue collar worker or white collar worker back in the eviscerating middle class, but if justice were served to only a fraction of those responsible for the demise of the American economy, the government would certainly have flushed out a degree of executed fraud, permitting honest and qualified employees to fill those newly vacated positions.
    The former CEO of Countrywide has just been indicted for "civil fraud"; just when did fraud that helped to tank the economy become "civil"? Those at all levels who chose to self-deal fraudulently from the very outset, notwithstanding the Bush deregulatory environment, knew they were committing fraud and deserve to be punished.

    June 5, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  17. L-Bear

    P van Osta and all,

    I did not realize steel is no longer needed. I wonder what they use in the rails and infrastrucuture in Europe that is so much better than ours.

    The US will not even invest in the infrastructure needed for commerce because we refuse to do anything collectively anymore.

    White collar jobs are not safe anymore. You are a radiologist, outsource it overseas. You are an engineer or programmer, thanks to the high speed internet, see you would not want to be you !

    Henry Ford wanted to pay good wages so his employees could buy the products they make. Common senese ! Eventually, the US will collapse or become a third world country. If you see one, tht is what they want. The people at the top will take their offshore accounts and fortify their homes or use their money to buy into some other country that has is populace under control or was not as foolish as the US.

    June 5, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
  18. Brett Griffiths

    CNN and other news organizations would do a great deal of good if they would work harder to dispel some of the contemporary conflations of the middle class and the working class. The vast majority of Americans self-identify as the middle class, though, in fact, they are not. Although we lack a good definition for working class, those who study the matter (Zweig, Metzger, for example) look to education levels and not just income. While it is true that the middle class is being pinched brutally in the current economy, steel workers and auto workers are not generally considered middle class. Given the reliance of their job stability on shifting rates of production and employment by middle management bosses, the workers in these areas (coal, steel, auto) are generally considered working class. The distinction here is important, especially from a political standpoint. We persistently here politicians from both major parties articulate their affiliation with the middle class, but when those who earn salaries at the poverty line self-identify in the same class as those who earn 249,000, we have a real disconnect in our society. Part of helping people get the services adn recognition they need, as individuals and as communities, lies in recognizing the cultural expectations and the reproductions of inequalities and instabilities that have recur generationally since the industrial movement and are now felt so severely during deindustrialization. As an educator interested in the rights and education of students from working class families, i am saddened that these distinctions are not discussed or developed in the news. It seems that the working class subset of the United States are, perhaps, the most stigmatized "other," always passing, even to each other and themselves, as middle class. People continually ask why factory workers and steel workers didn't get out of their jobs 30 years ago when the proverbial "writing was on the wall." Perhaps this was because that writing applied to the working class and not to themselves, self-identified members of the middle class.

    FYI, there is a conference going on about Working Class issues at the University of Pittsburgh through Saturday.

    June 5, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  19. Cayla

    The USA is definitely becoming a country of the haves and the have nots. For years, our technowlegy was given toJapan and third world countries, so that they were able to sell computers, tv's, etc. Then, our manufacturing and service jobs were exported to places like China , India and Mexico. A friend of mine actually had to train the Indian people who would be taking away her department's jobs. Go to a store, pick up an item. Does anything show made in America? We need to tax imports, but we won't because places, like China, own us.

    So much of it has to do with greed at the top and keeping their stockholders happy. No one took into account, that when you take the jobs from the middle class, your upper class will also fall, because people wouldn't be able to buy the products that are being sold.

    My husband and I are both in sales. We technically have jobs, but they are commissioned jobs. Our incomes have dropped 80%. Our investments 25%. Thank goodness we own our home and one of our 2 cars.

    I feel that they should have given every individual, legally in this country, a share of the money, instead of to the banks and car manufactures. We could then afford to buy.

    June 5, 2009 at 12:09 pm |
  20. Debbie

    There is no longer a middle class, the middle class can be called the middle poor or the poor middle.

    June 5, 2009 at 11:55 am |
  21. Sylvia

    Let me see--the middle class-–hmmmm-oh that's the classs between the working poor and the non-working poor. Oh the unemployed laid off worker or is that the college graduate who cannot find a job. Hmmmm. The numbers have grown and cannot be placed on a calculator screen because just like the national deficit under the last administration-THERE ARE ONLY SO MANY SPACES.

    June 5, 2009 at 11:47 am |
  22. S. Stephenson

    I agree with everything P Van Osta has said. I am very familiar with Europe and the labor practices in the US. Bottom line is that the US had done this to itself. It is unfortunate. We will recover but things will look very different and people need to move on and focus on what the new world will look like.
    I am sorry for the gentleman in Cleveland. However, as I was growing up and taking my college eduation and struggling to pay for it and work, I would look at people like him who made a very good salary for doing manufacturing and assembly line work and wonder what I was doing by going to college and then getting a job that paid less than him. However, I did see that jobs like his were starting to go overseas and I did start to see the decline of the auto industry here and read the writing on the wall. I knew that an education and a diversity of skills would keep me afloat when this time came. Now we are seeing that the jobs that are available are those offered to people with an education.
    I hope the government steps up to help people like the Cleveland man. He is a victim of our own goverment's lack of vision. If the government does not do this, people like him will use their vote in the next election to oust the Obama administration and that would be unfortunate.
    We can fix this, but there are hard choices to be made. This is the US afterall and we have pulled out of these situations before. This one will be difficult and will result in a US that will not be as before.

    June 5, 2009 at 11:32 am |
  23. L-Bear

    Justin and P van Osta,

    You mean in Germany and japan and Scandanavia, they do not have unions or pay union wages. Canada still has a unionization rate of over 20%.

    Folks, it is about trade and industrial policy. Very few other countries allow their key industries and services to be outsourced the service their own country. The founding fathers realized the value of tariffs to protect their industry and prevent significant labor undercutting. Europe still has higer tairiffs on more things and also use value added taxes to increase the price of imports.

    Our trade policy is needed to enrich a few. We need cheap products because real wages have declined in this country. So, we replace them with cheap money to put you more in debt and chep products. We need to save more and not use credit as much, then people will see where are wages really are.

    Our immigration policies, illegal and even legal to some extent, are meant to maintain an over supply of labor to keep insecurity up and wages down.

    June 5, 2009 at 11:27 am |
  24. justin

    My take on this cleavland story.I see a man angry because he is out of his high paying UNION JOB with all the perks. I don't think companys move overseas or to mexico because of tax purposes ,they move because why pay someone $30hr and all the benefits it cost a
    company,when you can keep your cost down somewere else on this planet. Iam no genus,but when you have a dream of owning your own business or corp, i think you do it to make money i could be wrong. Iam of the belief ,the higher the education you have the more money you should be able to earn ,after all you went to post secondary school . Its not fair when a drop out of high school can make more money then someone who went to college.

    June 5, 2009 at 10:44 am |
  25. P Van Osta

    Actually, Labor cost comprises more than just wages. If you add healthcare and pensions (like with GM and Ford), you will find that Labor cost is such a huge factor on a per vehicle basis, that they could not steer the company away from the cliff.
    They needed to make smarter, smaller cars, but could not produce them and make a profit. Because of Labor cost.

    June 5, 2009 at 10:14 am |
  26. patrick,WESTERN NY

    The middle class will be gone. All the jobs are going to mexico or overseas.America blames the union worker saying they make to much money. Labor cost only 3 to 7% of a product. Utilities, support and other things account for the rest of the cost of the product.What america isn't aware of is the massive overhead these corporations have.Here are some examples,management,middle management,
    vp's and ceo's.If you got rid of the fat ,you could run leaner and meaner and produce the same amount of product if not more.An average union worker makes between $40,000 to $70,000 yearly.
    The $60,000 to $70,000 is achieved with alot of overtime! You need this amout to have a house and live in nys.THE SALE TAXES AND PROPERTY TAXES ARE THE HIGHEST IN THE COUNTRY.

    June 5, 2009 at 10:04 am |
  27. P Van Osta

    Also: please don't forget that a lot of manufacturing gets outsourced to China etc., because American consumers insist on buying cheap items at WalMart. The relentless demand for cheaper goods, is what drove US-based companies off-shore.

    You cannot pay union wages in this country AND compete with China, Mexico, Vietnam, Korea, etc. in the manufacuring arena.

    So: Either be prepared to pay 50% more for all your consumables, or watch the jobs go overseas. You can't have it both ways.

    June 5, 2009 at 10:03 am |
  28. John

    Is not the middle class the majority here in the United States? Then why do I get the impression the MC is treated like dirt?

    June 5, 2009 at 10:02 am |
  29. L-Bear

    My final point at this time, is we are competing against countries that see themselves as engaging in national efforts. In the US, only the people at the top and in Washington know how to get together to look out for their interest.

    We are competing against countries that have some kind of national health care that helps keep their people healthy, spreads costs and riks, and does not put the burden on their people or companies.

    This also allows them to have more content people, more small business to create jobs, and more entrepreneurship.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:53 am |
  30. tat

    I sat here an read some of the comments .I agree with most.im 51 first time ever been laid off.This has been 6months now.I dont foresee being called back at all.sad part.when i started working for this outfit,money was good.In just four years,office help increased 3 fold.Where is the logic in that.spots created that werent needed.When the economy took a dump.over 400 were laid off.Gov. isnt helping one bit. The gov. gives you a whole 25 dollars extra in unemployment.Then take taxes out on it.An,god help if you get the full amount from unemployment.When you do ,you are unable to recieve emrgency food stamps because you are collecting too much. then the government want more monies from us to help out big corperates.for what i see,they would have been better off to get the private sector that money,At least it wouldnt have been a total waste.All those billions an people are still out of work. WHAT A WONDERFULL WORLD WE LIVE IN

    June 5, 2009 at 9:45 am |
  31. L-Bear

    Obama weakened the buy American provision in the stimulus package and gave too much away in tax cuts that have shown to be ineffective and keeping needed money out of the treasury.
    The Europeans threatened a trade war over the "buy American" provision, but their markets are not as open as ours. They still use tariffs and value added taxes and some times out right quotas to control their marktets.

    In Asia, they have quotas for importing our cars and do not let foreigners buy majority control over key industries. They are laughing at our policies that allow them to become powers while destroying our own foundation. China is coming out of the recession because they have our money to build new infrastructure and have manufacturing.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  32. maria rounsavell

    The country is undergoing massive restructuring.
    There will always be a middleclass, the backbone of our society.
    The money index will not probably be the main one. Other material indicators like house size or location, furnishings, cars – size and number – these will not be as important. Access to postsecondary education, I hope, will remain important. The spiritual will rise above the material indexes.
    As the base, the middle class will continue to have its values as the guide for American behavior, foreign policy, budgetary appropriations, both individually and nationally. At the same time, it will adopt and revise its fundamental mindset .
    Internationally, we can project the changing values that we as the sole superpower are adopting and exhibiting.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:44 am |
  33. Harvey

    All of us know that companies are sending the manufacturing jobs overseas but we all say that they are not coming back. But I think we can bring them back. Now you are going to ask me how?

    Since we are the biggest consumer of almost everything in the world , our govt. need to tell all the big corporations that if you want to sell your products in USA, you will need to have at least 50% of your Products and Parts manufactured in USA itself. If they don't agree let them take the business to China, Mexico etc . We are already spending billions of dollars on these big corporations by giving them tax breaks etc, why not to give that money to other small businesses who agree to keep the plants in US so that they can expand and also to other entrepreneur who can open new manufacturing businesses.

    Also we need to start charging right amount of tariffs on all imported
    goods so that US manufacturer can compete with foreign manufacturer. Right now we are not charging enough tariffs on imported goods but when the end user ( consumer) buy them in market. It almost cost the same amount as an US manufactured good. So the free trade is only benefiting big corporations.

    I am not against free trade but these big corporations need to realize that if there will be only Rich and Poor in the country they will ultimately collapse too because 2%-3% of Rich will not be able to consume all the products they are and will be importing since poor and would be poor can't and will not able to afford those products.

    Our Politicians will not do anything unless voters will force them to do something. Start calling your Senator and Congressman/woman to do something about it. We need to cut down imports and starts manufacturing here.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  34. P Van Osta

    Arlene Eliason hit the nail on the head. Nowhere else in the industrialized world is 'Middle Class' asociated with manufacturing jobs and the lack of college education.

    Middle class in Europe, means white-collar workers with a college education. Poeple who work their way into junior and middle management as a career. People with portable skills and a 4-year degree (which admittedly is a lot cheaper to acquire in Europe than it is here. Cheaper, not easier).

    S. Stephenson also spoke a fundamental truth. The US car manufacturing industry stubbornly refused to adjust to the new world introduced by the Japanese and European car makers. They continured to focus on BIG, gas-guzzling vehicles (SUV's, Pick-up trucks) because those were the only vehicles where they had a profit margin and they hid behind the cliche 'It's what the Americn public wants'. This decline of the US auto industry began in the 1970s and has recently accelerated into the collapse we see today.

    The irony: GM and Ford make EXCELLENT vehicles in Europe. Vehicles which are highly regarded and which sell very well. But they were never made available to the US public.

    So: we have an artificial middle class, populated by blue-collar workers who make a very good living in an obsolete industry.
    When that industry collapses, away goes the artifical middle class.

    The same thing happened with Coal and Steel and a bunch of other industries that were 'yesterday'.

    They invariably get replaced by new industries, new ways of working, new ways of earning a living. Those workers who adapt, will thrive. Those who don't, won't. These transitional periods are always as painful as they are inevitable.

    BTW: I am a college-educated European, who has been living in California for 12 years now. The US is still the largest economy in the world and has the biggest pool of creativity and business acumen in the world. This will soon be just a painful memory, like the crises of 1973 and 1987 etc. We can only hope some lessons were learned that might help us break this boom-bust cycle. But with Wall Street being what it is, and the government's reluctance to regulate the markets, that seems unlikely.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  35. Amit, Bangalore India

    My name is Amit. I am laughing at you all Americans for giving me your job while you are all out of work.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  36. Karen

    LET US ALL STAND UP AND PROTEST AS AMERICANS.

    DEMAND THIS - WHERE IS THE LIST OF NAMES OF THOSE NON U.S. CITIZENS - INDIA, CHINA, WHO THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALLOWED TO TAKE THE JOBS FROM AMERICANS ?

    WHY DOES NOT ONE AMERICAN HAVE THE BACKBONE TO DEMAND THIS LIST ?

    June 5, 2009 at 9:34 am |
  37. Jeannie Lacock

    The middle class is nearly dead. If our country doesn't begin to support policies to grow the middle class, we will have no one to blame but ourselves because of who we put in Congress. Obama is promoting policies to help the middle class but Congress is obstructing his policies, including the Dems. Instituting public and portable health care, strengthening unions, and reform of banking and credit card industries will go a long way toward aiding the middle class, but this country simply cannot fix what has taken 30 years to unravel. I am glad to hear you report on this subject and I hope the media continues to do important pieces such as this one. Society claims to want to help middle class families remain intact, but there is a disconnect on following through with the policies that will help us. We are so busy with working and family that most of us do not have time to monitor congressional votes to ensure our representatives are voting in our interests, and that's exactly how the top of the political hierarchy wants it.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:30 am |
  38. L-Bear

    Look, no one else practices trade like the US. Thanks to Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, we have incredible trade deficits. Reagan took us from being a creditor nation to being a debtor nation and attacked unions.

    When we bailed out GM, we did little to gurantee jobs. While other countires that gave their automobile manufactures and other industries money, did it on the condition on certain job levels.

    Yes, Japan makes cars in the US, but to service the US market. They do not offshore their jobs to service Japan and Asia. The US is one of the few countires that allows offshoring of jobs for their own doemstick market.

    The US is the only major "power" without an industrial policy. Why ?
    Washington is bought and paid for and out of touch ! Our big corporations care nothing about the country except when they need its protection. Then the people they put out of work or pay little to, can go fight on their behalf.

    Obama talks a good game but allows the same bad policies and hires the same types of fiance men that wrecked the economy to set new policy.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:26 am |
  39. Ted Lewis

    Good AMFIX to you!

    Middle Class? Surely you jest. Since 1980 there has been an organized and well structured attack on this strata of our economy. The then President, you know the Republican god, Ronald Wilson Reagen started it with his voodoo economics. Bush 1 continued the insanity. Clinton, as much as he was good in some areas, allowed free trade to go wild. Then along came "W." How to classify that bit of stupidity mixed with religeous zeal, dunno.

    In the end we have been free traded to death, transferred technology that may be used militarily against us, implemented a massive change in many statutes affecting the middle class, overextended our reduced military, allowed millions of people to enter the USA illegally adding to our tax burdens, allowed companies to hire illegals, allowed too many H1B visas. I'd go on but I am getting sick to my stomach! Suffice it to say the economy is wrecked..

    As to President Barack. We should, unlike the Republican Leadership broadcasting all day, all night, all nasty, support his efforts. Yeah, in the long run, they go in the direct opposite direction of the last twenty years. The Republicans say they have changed and now have a better way. The way of Barack is dissaster they say.
    Trust them instead they say!

    Trust them? Sure if we do we'll be just like the lady that lets her wife beating sob of a husband back in the house!

    Hey Lou, in case you read any of this, this is from someone who was leaning your way but now is supporting the DEMOCRATIC PARTY. The Republican, Carl Rove, Rush Limberger, Sean Hannity, Fox Propaganda Channel huggers can get lost. Really, I wish them no harm but they should all just go away!

    June 5, 2009 at 9:25 am |
  40. Carroll Hinkle

    Whether or not the "middle class" is dead begs the question: in America, what is the "middle class"? I think that it is a historical term that has no real meaning any more. The forces of change are principally, in my opinion-the internet, the dot com industry, an other forces of technology which in this period in time are absorbing "capital" and creating new and different labor conditions for which we are not yet prepared. In the long run, unless people change from their absorption with consumption, two different societies will come to exist: the very wealthy and the subsistence level of society, Unless we revert to an agricultural existence with a few wealthy technocrats living in the city and banging their heads against the computer screen, we are going to spin our wheels and wring our hands over the loss of the "middle class"

    June 5, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  41. Kathleen Wood

    When the middle class stops deluding itself and overspending to 'achieve" an upper class lifestyle, it CAN maintain its place in the middle class. Sensible and frugal living WILL deliver middle class status. We have lost our compass for spending, oh middle class, and, as a result, are sacrificing homes and lifestyle due to debt. This is not a govt. problem. This is a personal greed issue. Deal with it, middle class of America, and stop pointing the finger. Put your ever-ready , maxed-out credit card away!!

    June 5, 2009 at 9:20 am |
  42. Tony

    I'm 55, been unemployed 8 years due to a layoff, had to distress sell my home of 22 years, my marriage got destroyed from the economic stress, and I ran through my entire retirement funds ... and have NEVER lived beyond my means. Next month, I have to move back in with my 84 year old parents in order to survive. THERE IS NO MIDDLE CLASS. My oldest daughter has one more year of college, and she said to me "Dad, it looks like I'm going to be poor when I graduate". So much for the American Dream. Thanks Washington !

    June 5, 2009 at 9:19 am |
  43. Jimmy

    What is needed is - each day on the television, a scrolling at the bottom of the screen of the names of those individuals who are non American (India, China, etc. who live in america – or who are overseas, hired by U.S. companies - to replace American workers. This list would most likely scroll continuously for well over 100 years and would keep expanding exponentially.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  44. Arlene Eliason

    Manufacturing jobs created a middle class without a college education. But I consider myself middle class. I have a masters' degree. The middle class is changing but we've gone through that before. There was a time when a high school diploma was not needed to be middle class. Perhaps we need to look at the affordability of education.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  45. June

    Is President Obama GOD?!!!? Is it his fault that 72% of Americans don't have a college degree? Did he create this mess? It took me so many years to receive a degree but I didn't give up. If the blue collar workers didn't prepare for another trade especially with the amount of money they were making, is that the President fault? Why isn't the media, Americans raising Hell regarding the people including our last President who made this mess? My advice: get over it.. Get the proper education for the trade that will give you the pay that is desired, relocate if you have to and pray. Life isn't over... you have to keep trying and you have to keep moving. Remember a lot of our Ancestors experienced Life worse then this, to allow us to have some of the technology, and pleasures that we enjoy today.. In other words Man or Woman Up !!!!

    June 5, 2009 at 9:17 am |
  46. liquilite1

    Taxes go up every year because there is no one left to pay them-the rich have all the loop holes, and the poor are just too poor due to the erosion of the "middle class" and "working class" who are now themselves the "poor". The rich dont care because they HAVE money- and to stay rich, or become even richer, they send all the jobs to places that give them even more tax breaks, no EPA to deal with, and labor at a fraction of what they would pay a worker at home. Government gives the working and middle class just barely enough tax breaks to keep them alfoat so they can keep bludgeoning us with other taxes to pay for everything. If the US were one big farm, most of us would be the cattle...waiting to be slaughtered, but fed just enough to survive in line.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:15 am |
  47. S, Stephenson

    I watched your piece on The Middle Class and as a person of the middle class I am a little angry at the lack of vision of the country: its politicians, economists and its people. The Middle Class is not disappearing, it is changing. This change started 30 years ago and it was obvious it would lead to where we are today. You mentioned that a significant percentage of Americans do not have college educations. This is a large part of the shift in the Middle Class and the decline in its numbers. Other European countries have a larger percentage of educated people. Also, the decline of our auto industry we inevitable. Our auto industry made an inferior product and was in decline the moment the Japanese cars came on the scene. This decline could easily be seen. You make an inferior product and people are going to look elsewhere. This decline was accelerated by the unfortunate economic events of the past several months and the greed of the credit industry and frankly the greed of the American public who wants more than they can afford. This is true of the housing industry as well. The banks are to blame but so are the people who took questionable loans to own home they in no way could afford.
    The Middle Class would have made a more seamless transition if this country had promoted education and moved people from the manufacturing sector into the Middle Class jobs that are available now. The car industry would have survived if it had the vision of Japanese and German car companies. Make a quality and good looking vehicle. The Middle Class is still here: it is educated and working in industries other than manufacturing. This paradigm shift was inevitable. Our government should help the people in trouble now become educated and trained in the areas where jobs are and will grow: medical, 'green', technology, etc.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  48. Bobbie Ellis

    I do believe that this will ultimately create some type of serious confrontation....hopefully NOTE violence. However, the media seems to REFUSE to keep the huge gap between workers wages and the ridiculous salaries of CEO and corporate officers!!! THOSE PEOPLE (lol) are not going to voluntarily relinquish any portion of their 'prestige-points' dollars. The truth is, ANYONE that can't live very comfortable on a million bux a year, doesn't have enough financial acmen to be running a lemonade stand.

    These huge salaries have nothing to do with ability or needs of the CEOS ....they have reached these levels simply to be "points" in the I'm Better Than You Are game! We can't afford their game anymore.

    Bobbie

    June 5, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  49. Bill Fleming

    People including the news organizations don't seem to remember that in the 1980's the big predictions were that manufacturing would be replaced with service jobs and that manufacturing would be relegated to third world countries like Japan and Mexico. The attitude with which this was touted on the news was that manufacturing things was unsophisticated, dirty, and not intelligent while service jobs were more important. This was, I suspect, propaganda to numb the American people and politicians while manufacturing was tranferrred by American companies to lower paying countries.

    But most service jobs are lower paying for everyone but the upper managment. Case in point, all the financial institutions that collapsed while the big guys got tens of millions of dollars in bonuses. People that process loans or flip burgers or sell clothing made by third world manufacturers will never make a decent income.

    The concept that the U.S. could succeed without a manufacturing base was a sham idea that was parroted by the news agencies and never confronted by the media. People that manufacture things do something that is useful and tangible. They produce something that creates real stuff that brings in revenue.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  50. Kathleen Wood

    When the middle class stops deluding itself and overspending to "achieve" an upper class lifestyle, CAN maintain its place in the middle class. Sensible and frugal living WILL deliver middle class status. We have lost our compass for spending, oh middle class, and, as a resut, are sacrificing homes and lifestyle due to debt. This is not a govt problem. This is a personal greed issue. Deal with it, middle class of America, and stop pointing the finger. Put your ever-ready wallet away!

    June 5, 2009 at 9:11 am |
  51. Marc Turner

    We as Americans have all the Opportunities to make things happen for ourselves. The signs are around us to start changing the way that we can become more productive. The internet , cellphones that are just like computers and wifi. Middle Class is becoming a Dinosaur and in order for us to become more, we all need to seek opportunity other than the dependence of Washington.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:10 am |
  52. Sylvia

    For the last 8 years the middle class has been dwindling. We've been treated like a plague-needing to be "rid of". This assault did not happen in 6 months or 6 years and can not be cured in that time. The ones holding the cure for this plague are the companies & the pooliticans who have shipped out jobs overseas in the name of "NAFTA". Maybe we ship them overseas and find some who are"made in China". Can't be too much worst than what we have had.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:09 am |
  53. Bryan

    I make $12 an hour, the wife is a school teacher that makes almost $50g. I have 2 cars and a home. I'm not middle class? That is new to me. Could it be that the people in the middle class start wanting so much they priced themselves out of their class? You have to ask yourself what is important? $350, 000 home, or just a home? $25,000 car, or just something to get you to and from work? Stop trying to live the life (or appear to be) of the wealthy and not want to take the steps to achieve wealth (huge debt in college). I don't want wealth, never did. Let them have it, I'm fine in my little 1947 little home and 15 year old cars. Never participated in that game "he with the most toys in the end wins". That is not life, if you think so you are fooling yourself and are no better than those people in politics you don't like.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:08 am |
  54. HM Cooper

    Carol,

    Alas, I wish I could say that there was something new in this story, but it is not so. In the last 30 years or so we have seen a discrete war against the working class. Attempts to organize labor since the shift from an industrial economy to a service based economy have met much resistance from right wing ideologues. The disparity between socioeconomic classes has been growing, and the Bush/Cheney years have seen unprecedented shrinkage in the middle class. After WWII organized labor made "the golden age" possible. There would be no middle class without the strong union jobs of years gone by. Now, the future of the middle class rests with those brave souls whose purpose is to figure out how to organize the service industries. At least now we have a president familiar with the rhetoric of class. One can only imagine how dire our circumstances would be if McCain had been elected.

    -C

    June 5, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  55. Bill in Rotonda West

    Of course the middle class is not dead. It has simply changed names to "the have nots". It is clear that the US workforce will have to reinvent themselves, but in doing so, it will further stratify the classes. There will be a class of people that have settled in to a well prepared life and another class that will have been forgotten because they did not have access to everything the "well prepared" class had access to. I believe that to succeed in this new environment, we will have to morph into a non-factory worker life – instead becoming management types. The former factory class will have silently moved to third world countries. Read the writing on the wall and prepare yourselves for this new world.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:07 am |
  56. peter kestenbaum

    If the gentlemen wants a job in middleclass then he needs to speak with proper grammar (whatever language ) and get trained or retrained–or else he is limited to his physical skills- physical skills are no longer a safe road to middleclass- an assembly line worker is an assembly line worker– the compensation and status and competition global– a blacksmith was once a middle class job too- turning bolts on an assembly line or even running a computerized machine press is no longer a guarantee of a family income

    June 5, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  57. Anne

    Americans must stand up and demand this from the government:

    A LIST , BY COMPANY NAME IN AMERICA, OF THE NAMES AND TOTAL COUNT OF ALL WHO ARE OUTSOURCED STAFF – NON AMERICAN, FROM INDIA, CHINA, RUSSIA, OR OTHER COUNTRIE WORKING FOR THOSE COMPANIES.

    AMERICANS NEED TO SEE A COUNT BY COMPANY OF THE NUMBER OF JOBS THAT HAVE BEEN LOST BY OUTSOURCING.

    IT WOULD BE AN EYE OPENER – NOT ONE PERSON HAS EVER SEEN SUCH A LIST PROVIDED BY OUR GOVERNMENT TO-DATE.

    WHAT DECISIONS CAN BE MADE REGARDING THIS IF NO LIST IS AVAILABLE TO KNOW THE EXACT NUMBERS ?

    June 5, 2009 at 9:05 am |
  58. Bill Wright

    We must in some fashion retain enough industry to allow this nation to survive. China and India must not be the inheritors of our prosperity and ingenuity. The cost of labor is nothing compared to the cost of a total loss of our industrial capacity to foreign nations.

    June 5, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  59. rich sottilaro

    Why is everyone surprised that the middle class is going extinct??? We are having our jobs sent to other countries and don't forget about making jobs for people from India. Also don't forget about illegal aliens working in this country not paying taxes and then they send money back to their families not in this country. Why is everyone so surprised!! The only place to get money is from the middle class. The poor can't pay and the rich thanks to George W won't pay. Wake up people!!!

    rich

    June 5, 2009 at 9:04 am |
  60. stuart bellant

    Always when times get tough we hear that the "middle class" will take a hit or will be asked (forced) to make concessions. Most recently GM and Chrysler went to the UAW for consessions before they could hope to convince investors of the need for them to help the desperate CEO's keep the company alive. When do the rich bastards step up to the plate and make moves to revive our econonomy without waiting for the Goverment to force mandantory regulations on them? When do they show concern for the rest of America. For years I thought this kind of top down revolution would never happen, but now I have to reconcider. We did after all elect a black man President. Most thought that day would never happen in a hundred lifetimes.

    June 5, 2009 at 8:54 am |
  61. What about the poor working class people

    I'm 50 years old. I never drew unemployment and still dont. I work everyday yet I have never been able to have a new car are a home. My debts basically medical bills. I have giving up on ever owning anything worth anything. I hear people talk about saving their money to this acct or this CD and it makes me ill. I have cared for sick people most of my life. I want to say to some of the rich in our county I'm not jealous of you are your money. But some of us work and live pay day to pay day and still cannot make ends meet. I worked hard to put my daughter thru school. So she does not have to suffer as I have. By the way she has a bachelor degree and cannot get a job in her field. She make $8.00 hr. She is a single mother and worked full time and went to school. What happen to the american dream my parents had. See while some worry about their money. I am thankful. I have a roof over my head and food on my table and a 1984 ford...Yes ford american made car. I still drive faithfully. I love America even if I am considered poor. I would not give up living here for nothing. Its time we buy american made agin. Build our country back up. I am a medical assistant by trade. Not working in my field anymore due to job cuts. But I would be willing to work with any doctor in my area 1 day a week on my day off. If they could provide medical care to the needed. Buy the way its call pay it forward. If everyone with talent would donate 1 free day a week to help america we can be strong agin. Depressed in rural missouri, Kathy

    June 5, 2009 at 8:52 am |
  62. Margaret

    What "Middle Class"? Our government,has systematically insured that we no longer exists!

    We continually, bailout and condon
    the bad business practices, of the greedy CEO's, that have put our economy
    in the toilet!

    We can never recover from this disaster,as long as corporate greed is rewarded while hard working Americans are left disenfranchised!

    June 5, 2009 at 8:50 am |
  63. John

    So now where do we go? Our governments control our destiny (middle class). IMO, local, state, and federal politicians have there hands in the "cookie jar". Tell me I'm wrong and I'll shut up.. Unfortunatly, and I hate to say this, but, our politicians really don't care about the middle class worker. If they all did, we would not be in the mess we are in now, right?
    Was it YOU who caused this recession to happen? Was it YOU who caused our jobs to leave our country? Was it YOU who caused our taxes to keep increasing every year? If YOU answered no to these questions, then WHO was it then??
    WHO suffers now my middle class friends?

    June 5, 2009 at 8:08 am |
  64. jim

    I just wrote how we've been sold out by our own government. It took me 30 minutes. I submited it. It said invalid email. Everything I wrote was gone. I could not go back and correct anything. Is this how blogs work or is this sensorship

    June 5, 2009 at 7:31 am |
  65. patrick

    About 3 months ago at one of our presidents town hall meetings he said the manufacturing jobs would not be hear any more. instead we have to look to high teck jobs. At that point I new we (the middle class) would be in trouble. The President bailed out the banks so they could free up credit. It never happened infact they did the reverse and tightend up credit to the point where middle class people had there credit card limit lowered and there rates raised, and if they needed a lown forget it. Meanwile the government was giveing them money hand over fist to the point where they can't even account for it all. Now to top it all off the auto industry is laying off a lot of workers and closeing more plants wich means more people will be out of work and there will be more foreclosures, and bankruptcies. And if you think it's hard to get help from any lender now you should see how hard it is if you have a bankruptcy that takes over seven years before it is discharged. I Think the middle class is turning into the poor class at an alarming rate with out any future help in site. pretty soon there will only be two classes and only one will be able to pay taxes and then what?

    June 5, 2009 at 7:31 am |
  66. ken hodder

    Borden is right,

    The government, big business, and the whole economic system has been working to destroy the middle class for years. Government tax policies, which encourage US companies to manufacture their product overseas, big business, which is focused on short term profits achievable by laying off their workers, and an economic system which is out of sinc with the global economy (Ross Perot was right) has crippled the American manufacturing worker. The road back will be long and painful for many of us.

    June 5, 2009 at 7:11 am |
  67. Jeff Owen

    Just sayin. I knew you guys didn't have the gonadiluar fortitude to publish my last post. But it needs to be said because it is the single most important issue of our time.

    June 5, 2009 at 7:06 am |
  68. James Alexandros Papastamos

    Yes, unfortunately, the middle class will be as extinct as the dinosaur. My father was right. Nearly twenty years ago, having such foresight, my father told me that "in the world to come, you will have to be either at the very top or just making it, staying at the bottom." There will be no middle ground. You now have to be the very best, or just like the rest. There are too many people, educated and technically skilled persons, in this world. The days when an immigrant, like my father, could just come to his new land, get off the boat, and go from rags to riches, having nothing more than two big hands, and a strong will to succeed, are over. The only way to make it in today's world is to a:) discover a cure for cancer, or some great accomplishment; or b:) commit some horrendous crime, like Manson, which will give you fame and publicity for the rest of your life. This, unfortunately, is the world we live in. We have made great progress, yet we have also made life harder for those who wish to succeed and, more important, suport themselves and their families.

    June 5, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  69. Susan D. Collett

    A college degree is NOT the magic bullet for financial security. Education yes – college degree, not necessarily. Workplace mentors/friends, public library programs, funded voc/tech programs can provide a first step at any stage of life.

    Come on bloggers – review to your own work history. NOBODY makes it without someone giving us a break.

    If you're educated enough to watch CNN, you're educated enough to mentor someone at work. Think global, act local = commit an hour/week to educate someone into readiness for a step up. Trust me, it's an educational process that goes both ways.

    June 5, 2009 at 7:05 am |
  70. Barb Guindon

    We used to be middle class. Haven't moved, didn't change jobs but our standard of living is decreasing annually. There is something fundamentally wrong when in a country as rich as the US, 80 to 90% of the nations wealth is controlled by less than 5% of the population. As long as money talks I don't foresee a change. I worry for my children.They went to college, got degrees and work full time in their field and still can barely make rent. So now they are deeply in debt for college AND they are trying to meet living expenses. When did a CEO's right to make obscene profits & ship jobs out of the US supersede the right of middle class to live? The work force as a whole has become a group of "price takers" having the choice of low pay or no pay. We are rapidly becoming a nation of consumers and when we can not manufacture items that are basic to living we will be experiencing a new standard of living. It appears they could not bring the world up to our standard of living so the powers at be decided to bring the US standard of living down to match the worlds! Pat yourselves on the backs (both Democrats and Republicans) you are well on your way.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:59 am |
  71. Phil In Florida

    Yes, the middle class is becoming the low income class, similar to other third world countries. By going from 21% manufacturing jobs to 9% manufacturing jobs the U.S. Congress and the President have to establish "Content Law" on all products sold in the U.S. If America fails to have the capacity to manufacture cars, planes, trucks, trains, computers, guns, bullets, furniture, electronics, etc.- we loose the ability to defend ourselves in time of war. We are our own worst enemy because we like to buy cheap. But if Walmart and other large retailers said to their vendors – In 12 months 51% of your product must be made with American labor. Walmart would reduce the U.S. unemployment by 1%. Think about it. There is no such thing as "Fair Trade" OR "Free Trade". "CONTENT LAWS" will revive the American Dream. For each manufacturing job retained or created TEN (10) other jobs are saved or created in that SMA. Only 51% American Labor on all products sold in the US will not only save the middle class but improve the entire world economy. DO THE MATH CNN! CONGRESS! Just do it on products with METAL, Steel, Iron, Aluminum. America -Do not loose strategic manufacturing skills.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:57 am |
  72. ryan c

    The gov should promote programs to update older commercial property and provide incentive for those who still have money to invest. then allowing many ppl to re-enter the work force

    June 5, 2009 at 6:51 am |
  73. Rosemary of NY

    I'm not surprised that some may think the middle class is dead or extinct, because we have been either ignored or used for so many years! The "used" part we could put up with, as long as we earned a decent wage to raise our families.

    As children, we used to go to work during high school and bring some money back to the family to make it a little bit easier for all at home.

    Our children can't even afford to take care of themselves, especially those trying to get a better education.

    I agree with Mr. Bordon, where are the jobs??? Not just for us, but for our children while they become better educated than we are educated!

    June 5, 2009 at 6:49 am |
  74. Les

    I was raised in a small town in Ohio growing up in the 60's & 70's. We had many factories in our town and immediate area. One could complete high school and then get a good job and earning $20, $30, $40 per hour or more with overtime etc. There was 100% company paid health insurance and other benefits.

    Of course you could learn a trade in vocational school and go that direction when you graduated high school.

    Unless you wanted the "experience", or had a special calling, college seemed like a delay in getting on with life for most people.

    Most people would go to college an then end up make less money with fewer benefits anyway.

    Cost of living was low, earnings were good, nice life style, life was simpler, no terrorism.

    It hurts my heart to think that MY kids will never know the world I knew growing up

    June 5, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  75. Robertl

    I' just say'in that I was a pipefitter for 30 yrs. and saw what I was building, and the products related to the trade were being used to build. It wasn't pretty.;..oil refineries, chemical plants, nuclear power plants. I was making 60K plusa year "Middle Class". I started my way back in '96 toward my degree in Enviromental Science. Get back in school and make things happen for yourself. I'll hopefully have my BS next year. Unemployment covers my health insurance and there is a educational program available that helps pay the bills. Stop win'in and chabge, but I'm just say'in and I'm 57 years old and you just can't quit!! We should be looking at retirement.
    Bob,
    Albany, NY.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:48 am |
  76. Hamzah

    There just doesn't seem to be a realistic consensus on what "Middle Class" is. Obama seems to be saying with his "cutoff" at $250,000 that it's not above that. If 70 or so percent does not have a college education. The "dream" of having a college-educated population is a surely a long distance dream.

    And, what about college students? I am a college student who finds it hard to move into between college university in Amherst, Massachusetts, and home in Springfield, Massachusetts.

    There does not seem to be any actual paying jobs for young, not much experienced people who are in pursuit of their education. Giving money to have "young people volunteer" is a good gesture, but there are young people who need to make income and some related volunteer experience to the job you're trying to get is not nearly enough in a scarce market, where companies are looking for "exact" matches (i.e. experience, experience, experience).

    Young college students who have not gotten their pursued degrees.

    Where are our jobs?

    June 5, 2009 at 6:42 am |
  77. RD Kirk

    The televised story mentioned that only about 70% of Americans have a college degree. That's true. It's been true for 50 years, and it's gong to stay true for at least 50 more.

    But more importantly–that's all right. Society doesn't need everyone spending $80,000 on humanities degrees, society needs the bulk of its workforce with a high level of technical training.

    Those new "green" jobs don't require sociology degrees, they require certified technical skills. Even most Information technology jobs don't require computer science degrees, they require IT certifications. We have thousands of young people going into tens of thousands of dollars of college debt only to discover that they're still not competitive without spending a few thousand more to get technical certification–and they would have been just as competitive with just the technical certification.

    The primary problem with our education system is that instead of meeting the needs of the 70% who don't want and don't need sociology degrees, most of our high schools offer only watered-down college prep curriculum that won't get the kids where they want to go. High school is wasting their time, and the kids know it.

    Moreover, the "No Child Left Behind" program actually penalizes schools that have programs for the 70% of kids who are headed for work instead of a sociology degree. A school with a robust technical preparation program and a high graduation rate will actually lose funding.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:41 am |
  78. Dennis Caisse

    I live in a once great GM town: Lockport, NY. Generations of American families have worked here, lived here, educated their children here. It was not uncommon to see people earning paychecks equal to the salary of the local superintendent of schools. We saw the big unions shape our communities; and, we also saw the communities economic infrastructure wither, crack, and dissapate. At one time, Republic Steel of Lackawanna, NY employed tens of thousands. Today, it is a toxic brownfield, standing as a mute sentinal on Lake Erie's shores. Ditto for Harrison Radiator/Delphi of Lockport. As a school teacher, I watched with dismay, generations of bright, energetic graduates eschew the college track for a life on the radiator line in Building 8. Maybe our supply of labor is at a crossroads in the evolution of our country? Maybe people will take up the plow and return to farming? We will see.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:39 am |
  79. Susan Ganz

    There are manufacturing jobs available today in Maryland that we find challenging to fill. Hard to fill jobs include those as machinists, which are well-paying, stable and are made up of (many) smaller machine shops that support larger manufacturing clusters.
    One can expect that there will be manufacturing jobs of the future, but (that) these jobs will reflect a changed value chain that is much more linked with demand than supply. This means, manufacturers of the future many not look like entities of the past. They will be smaller in size and more entrepreneurial in nature as the primary requirements will be flexibility, breadth of skills and ability to successfully support an increasingly customized consumer view of the world.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:38 am |
  80. Michael in Maryland

    Bring manufacturing jobs back to the US. We were sold out by industry that moved all manufacturing overseas where they can bypass our environmental laws, exploit slave wages, and save a few dollars at the expense of the American economy.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:37 am |
  81. E.Laurence

    The middle class is gone much to the detriment of the US. These people were the backbone of the country and the group that created the new ideas and product breakthroughs. Without this class, out country falls into mass hopelessness. WITHOUT THIS CLASS, NEITHER OUR ECONOMY NOR COUNTRY WILL EVER RECOVER.
    If we eliminated a 'class', it would be better to eliminate the politicians who lead the greed and ego train.
    We need jobs to recover; we need to remove the illegal people from this country, we need to get government out of businesses, we need to take care of our own citizens, we need to stop paying for illegal aliens and the rest of the worlds wounds.
    Just my opinion.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:36 am |
  82. Raymond W. Kerr

    Miss Costello's report relating to the middle-class stated that 72% of americans do not have a college education.... Miss Costello inadequate report failed to mention that 80% of american businesses are owned by non college graduates from Microsoft to your neighborhood barber shop....

    Raymond W. Kerr
    Professor of Accountancy

    June 5, 2009 at 6:34 am |
  83. James Hill

    You can blame our government for allowing greedy CEO's moving jobs to China and many other countries. We were suppose to get pruducts cheaper, well I say bull%^^&**^%#@@!! There use to be American Pride, now it's gone gone gone! When is the government going to wake up?? James

    June 5, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  84. Jennifer

    Your coverage on issues like this is consistently, consistently disappointing. Believe it or not, there's a term that describes people between "middle class" and "poor": it's called "working class". Please add it to your vocabulary.

    The people with the decent blue collar jobs that let them raise children and send them to college are members of the working class, not the middle class. They don't make enough money to be middle class, for starters: "middle class" jobs are ones like doctor or lawyer, jobs that give people upwards of $100K a year.

    The main reason why it's so disappointing that you always get this wrong is because it encourages working class Americans around the country (like me – I'm a teacher) to panic when Republicans run scare ads about "tax increases on the middle class". Those tax increases may be a good thing, may be a bad thing, but what they aren't are tax increases that will affect personally most of the people worrying about them.

    And it isn't the "middle class" that's disappearing in America – it's the working class. And that is a pretty clear case of "class warfare" – except it isn't what the right-wing pundits are always saying it is. It's the upper classes declaring war on the lower classes.

    This is one of the most serious issues facing America and its long term recovery possibilities from our current economic woes. Please, please, please start giving the working class the coverage it deserves – in depth and accurate.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:33 am |
  85. andre

    I've been unemployed for two years and tried for so long and ended up just stop looking. There is nothing around here. Just a fast food, regular dining, a few factories, but thats really it. I live in beaver county, pa. I have not seen nothing around here since i had a job. I would say that middle class around here where i am at is slipping away real quick.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:32 am |
  86. Richard D

    I try to remain optimistic, but sometimes I feel like the folks in Washington are trying to intentionally eliminate the middle-class. Why, I don't know. Choose your favorite conspiracy. But I've seen my wages drop 50% – 60% in the last two years. I've sold my house because I couldn't afford it. Downgraded my car. I wonder why the folks in Washington sacrifice nothing while requiring me to sacrifice everything.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  87. Alonzo L

    The middle class hasn't died, people are not keeping up with the class itself. People have to wake up and analyze their situations and make crucial decisions. People are getting put back in their place and are no longer living above their means. And also those people who were able to figure out what was needed to be done, are those who will be the next successors.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:30 am |
  88. John

    I'm now 52, I remember my dad telling me about 30 years ago that there will be no more middle class. Just the rich and the poor. Was it that obvious?

    June 5, 2009 at 6:29 am |
  89. Fred Tondalo

    What needs to be done is that the President must follow through on his promise to tax corporations that outsource manufacturing jobs to other countries and to give tax cuts for those who create or bring jobs back to the U.S.A.

    As it is now even the green job manufacturing is slated to be outsourced to CHINA!

    Bring the jobs back to the USA or we will never recognize our country in 20 years.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:28 am |
  90. Scott Davis

    This has been going on for years. The government encouraged manufacturers to move their operations overseas. There are more poor people and more rich people, but not much in between anymore.

    June 5, 2009 at 6:27 am |