Trapped in the Middle – Income Stagnates

Justin Lahart & Kelley Evans:

Are you better off than you were eight years ago? For a growing number of middle-class Americans, the answer is “No.”
Here and elsewhere, middle-class earnings aren’t keeping up with the cost of living. Rising gasoline and food prices, health bills, child-care and education costs are leaving less to set aside for retirement. With the housing market in turmoil, even the asset many had come to count on — the value of their homes — is threatened.It isn’t just a reflection of the current economic slowdown and rise in commodity prices: Middle-class incomes have been stagnant for several years. The well-heeled keep doing better, with the wealthiest 1% of U.S. families garnering the largest share of income since 1929.
“This is a squeezing-down cycle, and people are trying to hang on,” says Randy Riggs, pastor at First Presbyterian Church in this city in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch Country. “Five years ago, I had these visions of what the church could do and hoped to raise funds to do so. I can’t be a dreamer at the moment.” Mr. Riggs says he recently tabled a project to renovate the church’s chapel because he sensed he couldn’t raise enough money.

More food for thought with respect to taxes and school spending.