‘The US? We’re in bad shape’: pinched middle class tell tales of strive
As Voices of America highlights issues that matter to voters, in North Carolina, talk of helping the middle class feels like an empty promise without a plan
Life comes in threes for Latonia Best. She has three bachelors-at-arms magnitudes, is conjuring three children on her own and has been working for three years as a special demands teacher.
Once upon a time, this middle-aged professional, who is currently putting her daughters through university too, would have been considered solidly middle class. Yet that full-time schooling profession remunerates merely $3,333.33 a month, private households stipend that is now below official definitions of middle income even when adjusted for the relatively low cost of living in a town such as Goldsboro, North Carolina, where she works.
When tax and medical policy are withheld, her take-home illustration puts by more than a third, after which money for meat, housing, a vehicle and college tuition has to be found. To constitute the numbers add up, she has to work three other jobs a week.
Sadly, her experience is far from unexpected. Across the town of Goldsboro, like many other places in a country once famous for the thicknes of its abundance, Americas middle class is struggling. The issue was one of its most important and lingering mentioned when Guardian US requested, as part of our Voices of America series, more than 1,300 voters to identify the single most pressing issue for them in the 2016 election campaign
A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that in 203 of the 229 metropolitan areas in the US there was a fall in the share of adults living in middle-income households between 2000 and 2014, a outstandingly consistent dropped in the enormous swathe of specific populations defined as deserving somewhere between two-thirds and twice the national median income.
Some luck lineages find themselves promoted to the upper income bracket, where pay has been clambering. Still more slipped into the lower income bracket, leaving the share of middle-class adults four percentage points smaller overall.
Worst of all was the town of Goldsboro one of three metropolitan areas in North Carolina at the bottom of the national league table. Here, in a once solidly prosperous railway city in the eastern half of the sunbelt state, the middle class has collapsed from 60% to 48% and the proportion of those been identified as low income shot up from 27% to 41% in little over a decade.
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